Right around the corner is the best time of the year. There is a chill in the air, leaves are changing, your morning coffee just tastes better and of course, Halloween.
Don’t let the stores fool you, Halloween is still on the horizon. The massive section of way-too-early Christmas gear might make you think otherwise, so just walk by it and head over to the spooky section. The area with the spiders jumping out at you and the masks that will wake you up at night is the section you are looking for.
It’s really no secret that Halloween is the favorite holiday at the Sanders home. From the outside, we are stacked with the spooky gear. We have ghosts, tombstones, skeletons, creepy sounds and over-the-top jump scares that kept some kids saying it’s not worth it for the candy.
While the trip to get to the candy may be scary, the rewards are sweet and have a higher class of candy bar.
We may love Halloween around here, but we picked a horrible time to go on diets. Last week we decided enough is enough and started hitting the gym and eating better.
Along with this positive life change — which is positively hard to do for a guy that likes his sweets — come no more sweets.
Great time of year to do that Doug… Great time of year.
So to balance out the will of the gods, I will write about sweets and give you all a few fun looking recipes to try out.
I tried to find some that actually took some time and came from the heart. Not just a Ziploc bag full of mini marshmallows labeled “ghost poop.” While that may work on little tykes and sugar-deprived 33-year-olds, we will venture out a bit further.
As always, if you make any of these and they are a hit around the house, let me know. Enjoy!
Meringue Ghost Tartlets
Graham cracker crust:
8 large graham cracker planks
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To make graham cracker crust: Crush graham crackers into pieces. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor; add sugar. Process until crackers form a very fine crumb. Add butter and pulse to combine. Pack graham cracker mixture into 8 (2 1/2-inch) mini tart pans; transfer to a baking sheet, and bake 20 minutes or until the edges of the tartlets darken slightly. Let cool.
3. To make chocolate ganache: Heat cream in a small saucepan over low heat until barely simmering. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk well until very smooth. Spoon into graham crusts.
4. To make meringue ghosts: Heat 3 inches of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Place sugar and egg whites in a heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over the water and whisk to combine the sugar and egg whites. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot to the touch. (Rub a bit between your fingers. If it feels gritty, the sugar has not dissolved.)
5. Remove bowl from the stove and beat egg white mixture with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until shiny stiff peaks form. Transfer meringue to a plastic pastry bag, snip the end to about 1 1/2 inches wide, and pipe 4-inch-tall ghost shapes onto the ganache.
6. Use a small paint brush dipped in cocoa to form the eyes and mouth. Serve immediately.
Rice Krispies Treat Mummies
6 snack-size Rice Krispies Treats
3 cups white chocolate chips
Black edible piping gel or icing
Optional: red food coloring
1. Unwrap Rice Krispies Treats and set aside. Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on half power for 2 minutes. Stir and return to microwave for 20 seconds at a time (still on half power) stirring after each until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
2. Dip Rice Krispies Treats in the chocolate being sure to coat the front and sides (the back side can remain uncovered). Place uncovered-side-down on a foil-lined plate or small baking sheet.
3. Repeat process with remaining Rice Krispies Treats. Transfer plate/baking sheet to fridge or freezer to cool for 2-3 minutes.
4. While treats are cooling, spoon melted white chocolate into a small zip lock bag. Remove treats from fridge/freezer. Use scissors to snip off a tiny bit of one bottom corner of the chocolate-filled bag, then drizzle chocolate in a random pattern over the treats to create the look of mummy wrapping. Return treats to fridge or freezer for 1-2 minutes.
5. Pipe two dots onto each Rice Krispies Treat to create mummy eyes. (Optional step, dip a Q-tip in red food coloring and dab two dots onto the Rice Krispies Treats before adding the eyes to create a creepy “bloodshot” look.) Serve or store in airtight container up to one week.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
1 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup shortening
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk the next six ingredients; beat into creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin.
2. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets; flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake 10-11 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
3. For filling, combine flour and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, until completely cooled.
4. In another bowl, beat shortening, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add chilled milk mixture; beat until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies; cover with remaining cookies. Store in the refrigerator.