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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boo! Scary Sweets!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today's post is a few more recipes to get your Halloween juices flowing. The Christmas commercials have already begun (oy vey) so I'm doing my best to keep it one month at a time! So here we go...

Halloween Whoopie Pies
Grace Parisi

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (see Note), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • One 7.5 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
  • Orange nonpareils or sanding sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 alternating additions; scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Using a 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop 12 level mounds onto each baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cakes in the lower and upper thirds of the oven for about 16 minutes, until risen and firm; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the sheets to racks and let the cakes cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla seeds until fluffy. Beat in the Marshmallow Fluff. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip.
  4. Pipe the filling onto the flat sides of 12 of the cakes and close the whoopee pies, pressing to evenly distribute the filling to the edges. Roll the edges in orange nonpareils and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The assembled whoopie pies can be refrigerated in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper for up to 3 days.
NOTES For ultra-dark, super chocolaty whoopie pies, substitute 2 tablespoons of black cocoa powder (available for 2 tablespoons of the regular unsweetened cocoa powder called for here.

Halloween Cookies

For the cookies:
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
For the buttercream:
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups confectioners¿ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Food colorings (optional)
  1. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. To make the cookies, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until well mixed.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before continuing. 
  5. Place 1 dough disk between 2 sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll out to 3/16-inch thickness. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  6. Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Dip Halloween cookie cutters in flour. Cut out an equal number of each shape, pressing an imprint on only half of the cutouts. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared pans. Gather up and reroll the scraps, refrigerate until firm and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks. Refrigerate the cookies for 15 minutes before baking. 
  8. Bake the cookies until they are golden on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely on the pans.
  9. Meanwhile, make the buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the confectioners' sugar, the 2 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  10. If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Tint with food colorings as desired.
  11. For sandwich cookies: Spread 2 tsp. buttercream on top of the solid cookies. Top with an imprinted cookie and gently press together. Decorate the tops of the sandwich cookies as desired. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Makes about 24 sandwich cookies. 

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Spiderweb
Kemp Minifie

For chocolate web and spider:
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • For devil's food cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling-hot water
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, warmed in very warm water 10 minutes
For coffee meringue frosting:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (optional; see cooks’ note, below)
Equipment: 3 (9- by 2-inch) round cake pans; a pastry bag with writing tip (slightly less than 1/8 inch); a handheld electric mixer

Make cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Butter cake pans, then line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together boiling-hot water and cocoa in another bowl until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla.
  4. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops. Bake, switching position of pans halfway through, until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Cool cakes in pans on racks 20 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
  7. Make decorations while cake layers cool: 
  8. Trace a 9-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper, then draw a spiderweb inside circle. Next to web, draw a 2-to 3-inch spider. Turn drawings over onto a baking sheet.
  9. Melt chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring. Cool slightly, then transfer to pastry bag. Pipe chocolate onto web, beginning with spokes, and onto spider on parchment, then freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
Make frosting:
  1. Put frosting ingredients in a heatproof large bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Beat with handheld mixer at low speed until mixture is warm and sugar has dissolved. Continue to beat at high speed until thick and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and beat frosting until cooled slightly, 5 to 10 minutes more.
  2. Assemble cake:
  3. Place a cake layer on a serving plate. Spread top with some of frosting. Top with another cake layer and spread with some of frosting, then top with final cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.
  4. Cut off portion of parchment with spider and reserve. Invert web on parchment onto cake and carefully peel off paper. Peel off parchment from spider and put spider on web. Let cake stand at room temperature until chocolate decorations have softened.
Cooks' Notes:
  • Cake layers can be made 2 days ahead and kept, well wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature, or 1 week ahead and frozen.
  • Chocolate decorations can be made 1 day ahead and frozen.
  • You can substitute 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract for the espresso powder in the frosting. •The egg whites in the frosting may not be fully cooked.
  • Cake can be assembled and decorated 4 hours ahead and chilled. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.

Happy baking!

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