Posts Tagged 'Halloween Recipes'

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

The requirement of last week’s gourmet club meeting was to cook with five ingredients or fewer.  Although I ultimately settled on another recipe for the dinner party, this Ginger Pumpkin Tart from Claire Robinson is super easy and very seasonally appropriate.

To make the crust, I ground two 5.25-ounce packages of Anna’s Ginger Thins in my food processor to yield 2 1/2 cups of crumbs.  (I think any gingersnap-type cookie will do.)  I combined the crumbs with 6 tablespoons of melted butter, transferred the mixture to my 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan, and pressed the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with the bottom of a clean measuring cup.  I put the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and baked the crust at 350°F until it darkened a bit (11 minutes).  Next, I set it aside to cool.  (Make sure it gets reasonably close to room temperature before adding the filling; stick it in the refrigerator if you want to speed this up.)

For the filling, I whisked together one 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!), 3/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk, 2 large egg yolks, and a pinch of salt (salt, pepper, and water are considered “freebie” ingredients) in a medium bowl.  I poured the filling into the cooled crust, returned the pan to the oven (still on a rimmed baking sheet, still at 350°F), and baked the tart until it was set (30 minutes).  I removed the tart from the oven, cooled it to room temperature, and then chilled it for several hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

For being so simple, this is pretty darn tasty.  It’s essentially like eating pumpkin pie, except with a ginger cookie crust.  Like any good pumpkin dessert, though, it really isn’t complete without a bit of sweetened whipped cream…  I know this takes the recipe over the five-ingredient limit, but it’s essential.

Want to try something a bit more gourmet with homemade pumpkin purée and chocolate?  Check out last year’s Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart post.

TIPS:  Apparently, the canned pumpkin supply is back to good after last year’s shortage.  Yay!  Also, the one “mistake” I made with this recipe was to push too much of the crust up the sides instead of leaving more on the bottom.  That thick crust looks absolutely gorgeous, but it was pretty difficult to cut once I got to the edge.  Sticking a fork through it?  Impossible.  We had to pick up the crust and eat it like a cookie.  (Still delicious!)  Next time, I’ll even things out a bit.

Recipe link: Ginger Pumpkin Tart

Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart

Happy blog anniversary to me!  It’s been a terrific two years of discovery in the kitchen.  Many thanks to all of you for your support and for sharing the journey with me.  I’m going to post every day this week as part of the celebration, and look for some visual changes to the site in the next month to mark the start of a new year.  I’d also like to bring back the “request line,” so if there’s something you’d like me to make and post (including baking recipes that might need some high-altitude adjustments) leave the information in a comment on the site or e-mail me at  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thinking about this time last year, my life was pretty chaotic.  We had just moved back to Denver from Dallas, we were in a new living space, we were adjusting to the demands of my husband’s new practice, we were reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  It was all pretty overwhelming.  Consequently, there were quite a few recipes I wanted to try last October (especially from the then-current issue of Everyday Food) that I just didn’t get around to making.  Halloween Whoopie Pies was one of the recipes (so yummy!), and Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart (today’s recipe) was another.  The Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart was the inspiration for my last post (How to Make Pumpkin Puree), and I’m happy to report that the tart was well worth the effort on the puree.  Here’s how I made it.

In my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor, I pulsed 20 chocolate wafers with 2 tablespoons of sugar until the cookies were finely ground.  I added 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter and pulsed until the crumbs were moistened.  Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, I pressed the crumbs into the bottom (but not the sides) of a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan.  I placed the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and baked it at 350F until it was set (12 minutes).

Meanwhile, I melted 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a homemade double boiler.  When the crust came out of the oven, I poured the chocolate over it and carefully spread it to the edges with a spatula.  I transferred the baking sheet (with the tart pan) to the freezer for 5 minutes to set the crust and the chocolate.

While the crust was in the freezer, I whisked together 1 1/2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree (1 1/2 cups of canned is fine too), 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of packed light-brown sugar, 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin-pie spice, and 1/4 teaspoon of table salt to make the filling.  When the crust was ready, I used a pastry brush to brush the sides of the pan with melted butter (to prevent sticking) and then poured the filling into the crust.  I baked the tart on the rimmed baking sheet at 350F until it was set (45 minutes).  I cooled the tart at room temperature for 1 hour, refrigerated it for 1 hour, and then unmolded it to serve.  (Use a knife to loosen the tart if yours sticks a bit; mine did in one tiny spot only.)

Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart

Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart

I’ve seen the homemade pumpkin puree “light,” folks.  It’s amazing!  I mean, I’ve always enjoyed dishes made with canned pumpkin (including this fantastic pasta and countless Thanksgiving pumpkin pies), but the real stuff makes canned pumpkin seem downright gelatinous.  The homemade puree is incredibly smooth and creamy, and that really translates in this dessert.  I was actually worried that I hadn’t cooked my tart quite enough because I left a mark in the center of the tart when I touched it (why did I do that???), but the tart was just that creamy.  It cut perfectly and came out clean when it was time to serve it.

The flavor of the tart was just fantastic, too.  It definitely tastes like pumpkin pie (only better than what I’m used to), and the amount of chocolate in the dish is just right.  I really love the chocolate-on-chocolate layering of the crust.  (I’m guessing Dr. O loved it, too, since he had FOUR SERVINGS of the tart over the course of last night.)

The crust was a little bit on the crumbly side, but that improved overnight as the moisture from the filling sunk in.  I liked it both ways, but you might want to add another 1/2 tablespoon or tablespoon of butter when processing the crust if you want yours to be more dense.

The colors of the dessert are perfect for Halloween, but this would be a welcome contribution to any Thanksgiving table, I imagine.  I know I can’t wait to make it again.

TIPS:  I use Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers for recipes that require chocolate wafers.  I’ve always been able to find them in the cookie aisles of “normal” grocery stores (in Denver and Dallas, at least).  If you can’t find them or other plain chocolate wafers, I think Oreo cookies with the filling scraped off would work just fine.

Recipe link: Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart

Halloween Whoopie Pies

I have just been itching to make Halloween desserts lately.  It’s becoming quite the obsession.  I’ve rounded up a number of fun ideas from Everyday Food, Bakerella, and other Web sites…  The only real issues are time (can I possibly make them all?) and perhaps calorie consumption (can we possibly eat them all?). 🙂

We had friends over to watch football last Saturday and I thought we needed a sweet treat to go with our Kielbasa Black Bean Chili.  I had purchased the ingredients for Halloween Whoopie Pies from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food earlier in the week, and since it was one of those recipes I could safely make in the morning without completely bombing out my kitchen, I went for it.

To make the cookie part of the pies, I started by whisking together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl.  I set the mixture aside.

Normally, I use my stand mixer for everything I bake these days, but this just felt like a hand mixer project.  In a large bowl (and seriously, go large to prevent butter bits from flying about the kitchen), I beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room-temperature unsalted butter with 1 packed cup of light-brown sugar until the mixture was light and fluffy.  I added a room-temperature egg and beat until the mixture was smooth.  With the mixer on low (and this is where the stand mixer would have come in handy), I alternately added the flour mixture and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  I mixed until the batter was smooth, taking care not to overmix.

Using a cookie scoop for uniform shapes, I dropped heaping tablespoons of dough, two inches apart, onto two baking sheets.  (I lined mine with parchment, although the recipe didn’t say to do this.)  I baked my sheets one at a time in a 375F oven, 10 minutes per sheet.  (A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of a cookie should come out clean.)  As each sheet came out of the oven, I used a thin spatula to immediately transfer the cookies to wire cooling racks.  (Careful, they’re a bit fragile!)

While the cookies cooled, I made the filling.  In a large bowl, still using my hand mixer (with clean beaters, of course), I beat 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room-temperature unsalted butter until it was light and fluffy.  I gradually added 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until the filling was smooth.

When the cookies were completely cool, I filled them.  Using the same (now-clean) cookie scoop I used to portion the cookie batter, I placed a scoop of icing on each of the bottom cookie halves.  I used a knife to spread the icing around and then created sandwiches with the remaining cookie halves.  The recipe suggested gently squeezing the cookie halves together to make the filling ooze out a bit; don’t do it!  My cookies cracked and broke under the pressure.  I had much better luck just spreading the filling to the edges before sandwiching them.  Once the cookies were filled, I sprinkled Halloween nonpareils around the edges.

Halloween Whoopie Pies

My gosh, these were absolutely heavenly.  They were incredibly light and fluffy, kind of like Oreo Cakesters but bigger and way, way better.  My friend commented that he loved the salty flavor of the cookie with the sweet filling; the cookies weren’t salty, per se, but I think there was enough salt in the cookie batter to create the flavor contrast.

The only thing I would change for next time is that I would make twice the filling.  The recipe was supposed to produce 24 cookie halves (12 pies), but I ended up with 30 since I used my cookie scoop.  Unfortunately, I only had enough filling to make about nine whoopie pies, and I certainly can’t imagine them with less filling.  At least the leftover halves went to good use; Dr. O enjoyed them, filled or not.

TIPS:  The recipe didn’t specify whether the cocoa powder should be natural or Dutch processed (alkalized).  I used alkalized cocoa powder because that’s what I have in my pantry; I assume either will work just fine.

Also, whenever you use sprinkles, sprinkle over a plate, flexible cutting board, or piece of wax paper.  That way, you can transfer any strays back to the container to cut down on waste.

Recipe link: Halloween Whoopie Pies

Marshmallow Bones

Drumroll, please…  I actually made marshmallows from scratch!  And I’m (obviously) so excited about it!

I picked up the October 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living a few weeks ago because I wanted so badly to make batches and batches of Halloween treats.  There were so many cute ideas and I even collected a few ingredients, but I’m still in “move mode” and the month really got away from me.  This week, I realized it was now or never (or maybe 2009).  I kind of have a “thing” for marshmallows (I’ll eat the big ones straight from the bag as a treat), so I thought it would be fun to try the Marshmallow Bones recipe from the magazine.

To start, I lined 2 baking sheets with wax paper.  Next, I combined 1/2 cup of cold water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in the bowl of my stand mixer.  I sprinkled 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of unflavored gelatin over the top and let it stand until it was softened (5 minutes).

Meanwhile, I brought 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of cold water to a boil in a small saucepan.  I attached a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cooked the mixture until it was about 235F.  As soon as it hit that temperature, I removed it from the heat.

Using the whisk attachment of my stand mixer, I whisked the gelatin mixture on high for 30 seconds.  With the machine running, I poured the hot sugar mixture down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream.  I continued whisking the mixture on high until it was very fluffy and almost stiff (9 minutes).  I transferred the mixture from the mixing bowl to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip.

In a continuous motion, I piped a small figure 8, then a straight 5-inch line, then another small figure 8 onto the baking sheets to form the bones.  Getting a consistent shape was definitely the hardest part!  I also left quite a few “tips” after I piped the bones, so I used a small paintbrush to smooth them out.  I let the bones stand, uncovered, for 8 hours.

When they were sufficiently dry, I generously sifted powdered sugar over the tops, turned them to coat, and brushed off the excess.  (“Turned them to coat” sounds easy, but I actually used a small, offset spatula dipped in powdered sugar to help pry them off.  They didn’t resist *too* much and they held their shape quite well in the process, but it’s not like they slid effortlessly off of the wax paper.)

(Oopsie on the upside-down plate!)

Oh, my.  If you love marshmallows, this is the recipe for you.  They have a classic marshmallow taste – nothing unusual there – but the texture is just amazing.  They’re so incredibly fresh.  I’ll admit the recipe is a bit of work and you do need some special equipment (I wouldn’t want to give this a whirl without a stand mixer and a candy thermometer), but I think it’s worth it.  Plus, the marshmallows keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container, so you can continue to enjoy the fruits of your labor for days and days.

Now that I have a good basic recipe, I’d like to shake things up with different shapes and maybe some toasted coconut or chocolate ganache.  The possibilities are endless!

TIPS: The marshmallow mixture becomes harder to work with as it cools, so it’s a good idea to use a large pastry bag to get as much mixture as possible in the bag.  If you have to keep stopping to load a smaller pastry bag, you’ll lose precious time.

Recipe link: Marshmallow Bones

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