August 9, 2007 - Joanne

Holiday Cooking with Kids: Halloween

Tombstone Cupcakes with Ladyfinger Tombstones
Notes from: Trent’s
Haunted Halloween Party

October 29, 2006

Frog Burgers (mini hamburgers)
Green Fields Salad
Swamp Punch (with gummy worm ice cubes)

Gravestone cupcakes
Iced Pumpkin Cakes
Popcorn ball Ghosts

The Invitation:
I made the invitation using some Halloween stickers and a computer print-out of the party details.

Iced Pumpkin Cakes
Afternoon before:
One day before the party we tackled the desserts. For the Iced Pumpkin cakes I used all pumpkin in our recipe (i.e., no applesauce) and they tasted great. We iced them with natural food-colored icing in pale orange and green. We placed them on a bed of shredded green (food-colored) coconut. I had Trent put the coconut and a few drops of natural food coloring to make green. He had a lovely time smooshing the color over the coconut. Our pumpkin rock cookies would also have been appropriate.

We also made ice cube gummy worms for the punch.

For the Popcorn balls I had originally planned to use the Williams-Sonoma recipe for Caramel Balls –but the idea of Trent working with hot caramel didn’t seem wise. I switched to marshmallows after seeing Martha Stewart make these for Halloween. We popped the popcorn in the microwave using a brown paper lunch bag, 1/4c of popcorn, a healthy drizzle of olive oil sealed (roll it down once) with a piece of scotch tape. On the popcorn mode it took 30 seconds longer and I reduced the power to 8 for that 30 seconds so it wouldn’t burn. We made two batches. We also melted the marshmallows (40 big ones) with about 3 tbsp of butter. After the marshmallows were melted and stirred we buttered our hands with melted butter. We then rolled them into small tight balls, placed them on a silpat lined sheet pan and put them in the refrigerator. It made 11. We left them overnight but it would be better to make them the same day as the marshmallow makes the popcorn chewy.

In the morning using large bleached parchment paper squares, orange curling ribbon and food safe markers we used the balls to make the heads for our “ghosts” which, with a dash of candy corn, became our table centerpiece.

The day of the party: We spent most of the afternoon cleaning up the house and decorating. I pre-formed the hamburger (we used Macgruder Ranch grass-fed beef), mixing it with a little soy sauce and salt. For the "Frog burgers" we used pimento stuffed olives (sliced in half) for eyes (two toothpicks stuck into the bun) and left it at that. I had them sliced and on toothpicks so that when the burgers were cooked they were just popped on top.

The afternoon of the party:
Swamp punch we made out of Unsweetened Black Cherry Juice, Organic Apple Juice (carbonated), and Organic Pineapple Juice. We froze Gummy Worms in 50% apple juice (Nana Mae)/water solution in ice cube trays. I made the punch before the guests arrived except for the sparkling juice and the ice cubes. Just before the punch was served I added those. We served the punch in a clear punch bowl with gummy worms on the side.

Halloween Party table arrangement

Ghosts  made from popcorn balls

Tombstone Cupcakes with ladyfinger tombstones
How to make Tombstone Cupcakes:
For the Gravestone cupcakes, I came up with the idea of using half a lady finger as a gravestone and writing short epitaphs I found online (Izzy Dead, Rigor Mortis, I Emma Spook (or Spectre), Dr. Payne, Tomb Sweet Tomb, Barry D’Alive…) with a black food coloring pen.

For the dirt, we ground up crumbled “Tops and Bottoms” Newman’s Own chocolate cookies. The devil’s food cupcakes I used Beth’s chocolate cake mix (a great local brand to save some measuring time) and chocolate ganache. I dipped each cupcake in ganache (which still was partially liquid) and then dipped in dirt. I used a knife to cut a slit in the top of the cupcake and pressed in the half lady finger. We had trouble with cupcakes splitting if you didn’t cut the slit first and even then you had to be careful.

I intended to serve them on a “chocolate dirt” covered plate. With the rest of the cake batter I made a little cake in an individual pie plate (I floured and buttered it before pouring the batter in). I dug a hole in the center about an inch deep added 4 gummy worms and topped them with some chocolate ganache and a healthy dose of dirt arranging the ends of the gummy worms so that they look like they are wiggling out.

Haunted Gingerbread House
The Gingerbread House (s):
Three days before the party, Trent and I attacked the Easter gingerbread house we still had lying around and “renovated it” to a haunted farm using tons of black icing and assorted candy including marshmallow peeps in the shape of ghosts and pumpkins. The rule? All things on the gingerbread house must be edible – but they don’t have to conform strictly to our “food rules” which means some of the candy had PHOs and HFC – although I try and still choose the best choice of what’s available. If you aren't going to eat the gingerbread house it's a lot of extra work to make it from scratch - so we sometimes cut corners - buying a pre-built or pre-baked house and tackling it as a craft project.

Haunted Gingerbread House
The day before the party we took a haunted gingerbread house class using the Wilton kit and some extras (like popcorn) giving us a base for the haunted gingerbread village display.

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