Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Domesticity Log, no. 1 | All Hallows' Eve Eve

Culinary adventures from this year's Halloween/anniversary party, on Sunday October 30th. Typically, for any gathering, I make the snacks, sides, and desserts, and Wolfman is in charge of the meat or main course. Besides what is listed below, I also made some hand-cut french fries and some sauteed carrots with dill. Wolfman grilled some brats and mixed up a toxic green sugary spiked punch.

Scarecrow Crunch

When it came down to Saturday afternoon, the house is clean, and next on the To Do list is grocery shopping for the next day's EPIC HALLOWEENVERSARY PARTY, my mind drew a sort of blank. I could not for the life of me remember what exactly I'd slaved away at the year before. I knew there was a dip the menfolk devoured within an hour of arriving, but how was it made again? A visit to Pinterest, however, gave me this Martha Stewart recipe for a sweet & salty snack mix. It got rave reviews, but personally, I was not so impressed. Also, I accidentally picked up mustard mini pretzels instead of regular pretzels, and after debating this (aloud, I might add) to myself, decided to go ahead. My exact reasoning was, "Well, I like mustard; everyone else can suck it." Let it be known that I love baking and cooking and mixing, but when I have a deadline, I get a bit grumpy about it.

4 cups crunchy oatmeal cereal squares
4 cups tiny twist pretzels
1 (22 ounce) bag candy corn or autumn mix honey candy
2 cups Reese's Pieces (or similar/generic)
2 (6 ounce) boxes Poppycock (or similar/generic)
1 (6.6 ounce) bag Teddy Grahams (or similar/generic)

Combine in large bowl and mix, or combine in large freezer bag and shake.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I'd made blueberry whoopie pies for my birthday gathering using a recipe I'd torn out of some mystery magazine (Good Housekeeping, or like), and got rave reviews. Though, at the time I thought the cookies were a little too spiced for a blueberry cream filling, and in my brain computer filed away the idea to use the cookies in a future autumnal way. Then, the week before the party, saw Shutterbean's pumpkin cream cheese recipe--Ding! Ding! Ding!

For cakes:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease cookie pans.
2. In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients.
3. In large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until creamy. Add egg and molasses, beat until well blended. Mix in flour mixture alternately with sour cream (either on low speed with an electric mixer, or as I prefer at this point, by hand).
3. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets, 2 and 1/2 inches apart. Bake cakes, one sheet at a time, 11 to 13 minutes, or until cakes spring back when pressed lightly. Cool cakes completely before adding filling. Cakes can be made ahead up to 1 day; wrap tightly and store at room temperature.

For filling (recipe via Shutterbean):
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

I ended up using a little more pumpkin, maple syrup, and spices because I was using it as a dessert filling, not a breakfast spread. Of course, I can't give exact measurements because I never measure exactly. I'm more of a pourer/taster than measurer.

Dirt & Worm Cupcakes

So, fun self-epiphany, the reason I don't often bake cupcakes, even though I enjoy eating cupcakes, is that I kind of am impatient and annoyed by the decorating process. Also, I have terrible luck getting frosting the right consistency (I'm telling you, man, it's my lack of concern for exact measurements--it's biting me in the ass). So, here I've made this gorgeous chocolate cake batter, so delicious that I woke Wolfman up from a nap to make him taste some (he then got off the sofa, came into the kitchen, and cleaned the bowl for me--with a combination of spatula and tongue), and a slightly tangy, yummy frosting that keeps melting and dripping right off said delicious cake. And I am running out of time. And I am furious. Luckily, my new friend Selena (pronounced Solanah, unlike my friend-since-childhood Selena, whose name is pronounced Selena), has arrived early to help me set up for the party and takes over decorating duty so I can put my costume on. What a pal.

Cake & filling recipe via Lily Vanilli's A Zombie Ate My Cupcake:
For cakes:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons strong espresso*

* I used the morning's leftover coffee rather than espresso, because my husband roasts and brews a strong cuppa. And, a personal sidenote, when he found out his coffee was the secret ingredient, he was smug and proud in a way most adorable.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (f). Line muffin pan with paper cups.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add egg and vanilla, beat until fully incorporated.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
4. Add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the sour cream. Slowly add cooled coffee.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test.
6. Cool completely before decorating.

For frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk (full fat)
2 tablespoons sour cream*

*Recipe originally called for heavy cream, but as I did not have any, I substituted sour cream, and to be honest, I liked the tang sour cream adds rather than having a sickening sweet icing on my cupcakes.

1. Cream butter and cocoa until combined.
2. Add salt, vanilla, sugar, and milk, and continue to beat, slowly adding cream. Beat until very smooth.

For decorations:
Chocolate-filled Oreos (or similar), crushed
Gummy worms
Gummy mushrooms

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