Halloween

I guess you can call this post long over-due, but I have had my boyfriend over from Norway this week so I didn’t really want to spend my time blogging. But here goes the story of my first Halloween in USA.

My first Halloween in the US is over, and what a day it was! I was looking forward to this day for a long time and I was really enjoying planning out my costume and what treats to make. All the food blogs I follow have been filled with Halloween-inspired recipes, mostly involving pumpkin and candy corn. It was really hard to decide on what to make, but I think what I settled on turned out pretty good. Despite the rain in New York on Halloween night, we had a really fun celebration. We had good food, good drinks and good friends…everything you need for a memorable night. It was so much fun just walking around our neighbourhood, seeing all the little kids dressed up to go trick or treating.

Here we are all dressed up and ready to go out. We each represent one drink you would often find in a liquor cabinet. From top left: Myself as Jameson Irish Whisky, Grey Goose Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Southern Comfort, Sake, and Jose Cuervo. I don’t really like whisky, but it was fun to dress up like a leprechaun and walk around with a pot of gold!

Halloween was a good excuse for me to really go all out in the kitchen, as I knew I would have a lot of friends to share everything with. I settled on making caramel apples, sugar cookies and of course a batch of cupcakes. For the cupcakes I used this recipe with the chocolate frosting and half a batch of the vanilla frosting from this post. Since I have tried that recipe before I knew the cupcakes would turn out great, but I wanted to do something more fun so I decided to try and make a two-tone frosting. I filled one side of the pastry bag with chocolate and the other side with vanilla. This being my first try I was pretty happy with the result, but I know it will look better after a few more tries.

I have never made caramel apples before so I decided to “cheat” a little. Instead of spending money on a candy thermometer and going to the trouble of making my own caramel, I bought a couple of bags of Werther’s Original Chewy Caramel and melted them in a pan with a little heavy cream. This really worked wonderfully and the apples were so good! I really like how shiny and nice they turned out, this is definitely something I will make again.

Caramel Apple Recipe

6 apples of your choice (I used McIntosh)

3 150 g (5.5 oz) bags of chewy caramels

3 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Remove the stem from the apples and press a craft stick or chop stick into the top, about half way into the apples.
  2. Find a tray that will fit all the apples and line it with wax paper or parchment paper sprayed with oil.
  3. Heat the caramels slowly in a pan over low heat. As the caramels start to melt, add the cream.
  4. Continue to stir until the caramels are melted and allow to cool briefly.
  5. Roll each apple in the caramel and place on the tray. Put in the fridge immediately so the caramel sets.

Source: Cooking Dunkin style

The sugar cookies were my biggest project for this Halloween. I have never tried sugar cookies, let alone made them. Many blogs, including some of my favourites have featured these types of cookies, all decorated beautifully. Since this was my first attempt I didn’t expect them to be perfect, but I was really surprised by how well they turned out. I’m actually pretty pleased with the result. I think I will try to make these cookies again before Christmas, using different shapes and colours. For Halloween, I settled on ghosts, pumpkins, and spider web cookies. Decorating with royal icing was so much fun, but it does require a lot of time and patience.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup (2 sticks/ 230 g) butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup (225 g) sugar

1 egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (or 3 tsp vanilla sugar)

3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to incorporate.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt (and vanilla sugar, if using).
  4. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough into 2-4 portions (depending on the size of your baking sheet), and roll to just under 1 cm (3/8 inch) thickness.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Before you remove the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  7. Remove dough from fridge and cut your desired shapes. Remove the scraps and place sheet back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Repeat steps 5 through 7 with the scraps.
  8. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookies (mine were a little thin, so 8 minutes was enough).
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Source: Adapted from The Hungry Housewife

Royal Icing Recipe

4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar

2 tbsp meringue powder

5 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).
  2. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. Portion out the icing in different containers and add the colourings you are using.
  3. Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
  4. Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smoothes in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.
  5. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.
  6. Allow the cookies to dry and set overnight before putting them in containers.

Source: Annie’s Eats

For the ghosts I edged the cookies with white icing and used the thick black icing to pipe the eyes and the mouth. I then flooded the ghosts with thin white icing. For the pumpkins I used the thick black icing to make the “stems”, and edged the pumpkin with the thick white and then flooded with the thin white. I then immediately sprinkled on a thick layer of orange sprinkles. For the spider web cookies, I did the edges in thick black, and then flooded with thin black. I then used the thin white and piped three concentric circles over the black. Using a tooth pick, I made a line going from the centre of the cookie and out to the edge. Be sure to wipe off the tooth pick between each line you make.

Before you make sugar cookies I would recommend checking out these posts by Annie, Leslie, and Bridget

Good luck with these cookies, and thanks for stopping by!

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