Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween desserts

We're having a pot luck Halloween lunch today at work, in addition to a costume contest and department decorating contest. I spent an amazing amount of time this weekend cooking, both to bring stuff to Saturday's halloween party, and for the pot luck. Leftovers from the party also came to the pot luck so there's no shortage of goodies!

Here's some recipes:

Pumpkin pie

  • Puff pastry to line a pie dish (Pepperidge Farms brand frozen sheets are an easy cheat if you don't want to make it by hand)
  • 1.5 cups mashed kabocha or buttercup squash (or pumpkin). Easiest way to prepare this is cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, wrap in foil, and bake for 30-60 minutes in a medium heat oven until it's soft, then it just scoops out.
  • 2 tbs (1oz) melted butter
  • 1 tsp each of ginger, cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each of mace, ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) white sugar
  • 2 tbs flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk

Line a pie dish with the pastry and chill in fridge till ready.

In a bowl stir together mashed squash, butter, and spices.

In another bowl beat eggs thoroughly with fork or whisk, then stir in sugar, flour, salt, and milk.

Fold the two mixtures together and pour into the pastry. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350F for another 45 minutes (until a knife comes out clean).

For the halloween version, I used some of the pastry scraps to make a pumpkin face, and baked them separately on some parchment paper for about 20 minutes, then put them back in the oven on top of the pie about 10 minutes before the pie was done.

McCall's Best Cheesecake

  • 3/4 cup cookie crumbs (chocolate graham crackers for example, or digestive biscuits)
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • Combine, mix well, and press onto the bottom of a spring form pan. Leave to set in fridge.

Main body
  • 24oz (680g) plain cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup (8oz) sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Beat the cream cheese until light and smooth, then add eggs one at a time and mix until blended. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and sugar, mixing till light and smooth. Pour over crust in tin, and bake about 45 minutes until beginning to set.

  • 2 cups (500g tub) sour cream
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Mix together in the sour cream tub. When the cheesecake is ready, remove from oven and spread this topping over it. Return to oven for another 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool in tin.

Refrigerate overnight before serving. Good with strawberries or strawberry sauce.

For the Halloween version, I made a spider web pattern on top with melted chocolate, and put a little model spider on the top.

Egg-free chocolate cupcakes

  • 3 oz salted butter
  • 2 oz cocoa powder
  • 8 oz (1cup) sugar
  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup organic apple sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
Melt butter gently and allow to cool for a minute or two. Add everything else except chocolate chips and mix well using a fork or whisk until smooth. Add chocolate chips (can either mix in, or leave sprinkled on top). Line a cupcake pan with cupcake papers and fill them about 2/3 full, then bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the cupcake comes out clean. Wait until cool (refrigerate or even freeze so they don't crumble when being iced), then cover with the icing below.  (You can also use this recipe to make one big cake, just pour into a lined or greased cake pan and cook a little longer.)

Buttercream icing

  • 4 oz (½ cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch or Bird's custard powder (can also use vanilla pudding mix)
  • 1-2 shots of whisky or other strong alcohol (e.g grand marnier, brandy, rum, Bailey's) or cream
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
Mix well, adding more liquid if needed to soften up. Spread on cooled cupcakes then refrigerate.

For halloween version I just sprinkled them with some little pumpkin candies.

I also made butter tarts (which were eaten so fast I didn't get a photo) and macaroni and cheese for the pot luck today.

And I made my awesome dalek costume, as seen below facing off vs Doctor Who ...

The LEDs in my headpiece do actually light up but by this time of the evening I'd turned them off.  I'll probably post more details about the costume another time!