Monthly Archives: October 2012

May The Cupcakes Be With You.

Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays. As a kid I think I enjoyed the creativity and imagination behind each costume just as much as I enjoyed the candy. Sure Kit Kat bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are great, but getting to dress up and pretend to be someone or something totally different for a night is the real spirit of Halloween.

I’ve been a unicorn, a princess, a vampire, a witch, a gypsy, a hippie, a pirate, Cleopatra, Princess Leia and a Jedi to name a few. I think my favourite costume would have to be one of my last, the Jedi. My mom, being an excellent seamstress, made my authentic cloak and tunic from scratch. My dad fashioned my belt out of real leather and crafted a lightsaber complete with a blue LED light. My dad is also pretty keen on Photoshop so he was able to digitally make my lightsaber a reality. Please enjoy the below photo of thirteen-year-old me complete with unkempt eyebrows and surly teenager frown.

When I became too old and too cool to trick or treat I focused on the decorations. I remember one year I fashioned creepy stick figures like those found in the Blair Witch Project while vetoing all my mom’s cutesy skeletons and friendly jack-o-lanterns. I wanted an authentically scary experience, the kind that would make you jump and keep you up at night, not cartoon witches and googly-eyed skulls.

Today I’m proud to say our house has the coolest decorations in the neighbourhood, complete with fog machine, strobe light with thunder sounds, leaf graves, cauldrons, candles, spooky sounds, cobwebs, bats, bones, zombie fingers and a skeleton hung with a real noose. I also love helping Sable with her Halloween costumes and, with any luck, she’ll look something like this on Wednesday.

What are some of your favourite Halloween costumes from childhood?



Dark Chocolate Spiderweb Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Source: My imagination.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil

2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 vanilla bean

2 ounce semisweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line 2 muffin tins with baking cups and set them aside.

In a large bowl an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the edge of your knife. Blend in the vanilla then the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder baking powder and salt then add it in thirds alternating between the milk and oil.

Divide the batter between the prepared muffin tins then bake them for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before decorating.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the edge of your knife. In a bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla bean until it’s smooth. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and scoop it into a small pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. With a knife spread an even layer of the glaze onto each cupcake. Pipe 3 or 4 concentric circles onto each glazed cupcake then drag a small knife through the chocolate in a radiating spokes pattern to create the spiderweb effect. Enjoy!

Pink.

October is a month that’s all about welcoming Fall. Baking pies and roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving. Raking leaves into neat piles, jumping in them and raking them all over again. Stringing up cobwebs, carving jack-o-lanterns and donning your creepiest costume for Halloween.

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and and that’s a fact we shouldn’t easily forget. In support of this wonderful cause Tic Tac Canada has donated $25,000 to The Breast Cancer Society of Canada and released a yummy new Tic Tac flavour called Strawberry Fusion.

Guess what my new favourite flavour of Tic Tac is? You guessed it! They’re tart, sweet and bursting with two levels of strawberry goodness.

I was so happy with my sample of Tic Tacs that I was inspired to make something strawberry and pink in support of this most auspicious month. I sandwiched light and airy strawberry mousse between layers of vanilla bean cake and fresh strawberries then topped it all off with vanilla bean whipped cream. It’s tasty, it’s luscious, it’s pretty, it’s pink!

So I suppose there’s one more colour to add to the vibrant list of Fall colours and it certainly is a sweet one.



Strawberries and Cream Mousse

Makes about 4 – 6 individual desserts.

Source: My imagination.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp oil

1 cup heavy cream
2 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin

Strawberries

Whipped cream for topping

Note: I added vanilla bean to my whipped cream for sweeter taste and speckled topping. Just add vanilla seeds from a split vanilla bean and whip as usual.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then set it aside.

In a large bowl an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated. Split open the vanilla bean then scrape out all the seeds and add them to the bowl.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt then add it in thirds alternating between the milk and oil.

Evenly spread the batter out in the prepared pan then bake it for 15 – 20 minutes until the top is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let it stand for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s cool enough to touch. Using the dishes you want to serve the mousse in as a cookie cutter, cut out 2 circles of cake per dish. 8 – 12 circles should be enough depending on the size of your dishes.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip the cream reserved for the mousse until soft peaks form. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and use when you’re ready.

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, combine the strawberries and sugar. Stir it until it becomes liquid then remove it from the heat and strain out the seeds and chunks. Mix in the gelatin and let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s room temperature then fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Slice a few hulled strawberries in half for the third layer. First pour or pipe a layer of the mousse followed by a layer of cake. Arrange 4 -5 strawberry halves inside the dish with the cut sides facing out then fill up to the tops of the strawberries with mousse. Layer another piece of cake followed by some more mousse.

Allow them to chill in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 hours until the tops are set and no longer shiny. When you’re ready to serve, top the mousse off with some whipped cream and enjoy!