Another holiday, another excuse to get together with my best foodie friends and bake! This is the same fabulous group with whom I made this chocolate Bailey’s mousse tart for St. Paddy’s Day and my Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo. Today, we’re celebrating Halloween early to give you some spookily delicious inspiration.
I always have, always will.
It helps that the Husband and I believe in spirits, ghosts, the supernatural, etc, so we love being scared and are easily spooked. My people are incredibly superstitious. We never talk about ghosts in public because there, you’re more vulnerable. They hide in dark places and can follow you home. For reals.
In high school, Soul Sista and I thought it would be a hoot to play with a ouija board one dark night with her siblings. As skeptical as I was, it wasn’t hard to be freaked out by what we were doing. We allegedly contacted a spirit, one whose name I shall not repeat for the following reason.
I was driving home with the Husband a few years ago and I brought up the fact that I had played with a ouija board. I told him that a spirit spoke to us and when I said his name out loud, we heard a loud thump. I can’t even describe what it sounded like. We didn’t go over a bump, it was really late at night and we were driving on a smooth road. The thump was really really loud and it came at the exact time I said the spirit’s name. We were scared out of our minds and the Husband told me to stop talking about it immediately.
We visit Seattle quite often and we always stay in the same boutique hotel. The last time we were there, they offered us an upgrade and of course we said yes. The Husband didn’t tell me this until the next morning but he said as soon as he walked into the room, he didn’t like how it felt. There was something really odd about it. The layout wasn’t right. The placement of the items in the room, such as the proximity of the t.v. to the bed, was very strange. I, being oblivious as usual, didn’t notice anything. But that night, at around 3 a.m., the Husband woke me up and said “the t.v.’s on.” I looked over and the screen was filled with static. The Chinese say 3 a.m. is when spirits are the strongest. Freaked.us.the.fuck.out (pardon my French). It’d be one thing if the t.v. were on the hotel welcome screen that you see when you first enter your room. But no. It was on that scary ass snowy static-y screen that you’d see in horror movies right before a ghost child (the scariest kind of ghost) starts climbing out of a well and out of the t.v.
Gah, I’m getting skeered just thinking about it!
Let’s focus on this incredible round-up of Halloween treats to cleanse our mental palates. I’m bringing you a chocolate cake filled with pumpkin pastry cream and frosted with a maple bourbon buttercream.
For the chocolate cake, I used my favourite recipe. You only use two bowls, no mixer required, it’s so easy to make and it’s no-fail.
My Favourite Chocolate Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour whatever pan you plan on using (I used 3 8″ round cake pans).
In a bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and mix. Create a well in the centre and add all the rest of the ingredients except coffee.
Mix well until combined and then add the hot coffee. Mix once again. The batter will be very runny.
Pour the batter into your greased pans and bake in the middle rack in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean.
Cool on a wire rack in the pans for about 15 minutes then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Pumpkin Pastry Cream (adapted from About.com)
NOTE: I doubled the recipe and made about 3 cups of pastry cream. The recipe as written below will yield about 1 1/2 cups.
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, sugar, flour, spices and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it’s hot. Once the milk is steaming, add half of it to the pumpkin mix, whisking constantly. Add the milk and pumpkin back into the small saucepan with the remainder of the hot milk, whisking continuously (get into the corners of the pot!), and heat it for 3-4 minutes, until the custard becomes very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can put the pastry cream through a sieve if there are any lumps. Chill the pumpkin pastry cream before using it.
Maple Bourbon Buttercream
I kinda played this one by ear. Put 2 cups room temperature unsalted butter into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1/4 cup of bourbon. Mix until thoroughly combined. Taste as you go along. If you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar. I personally don’t like my frostings too sweet so I don’t add too much. It makes the consistency of the frosting harder after it’s been chilled but I don’t mind.
Chocolate and pumpkin are a dream together. This cake is dark, rich, fluffy and moist, with a bitter edge due to the coffee. The pastry cream is super smooth and luscious. I actually think the spices are a bit muted and would put more in next time but that’s just my taste. The pumpkin flavour came through beautifully. The buttercream with its subtle sweetness rounds everything out.
Make sure to visit all of my friends and drool over their delicious offerings. Thanks once again to our fearless leader, Jen of Jen’s Favorite Cookies for getting us gals together again.
1. Butterfinger Bark from Jen’s Favorite Cookies
2. Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cut-Out Cookies from Created by Diane
3. Chocolate Crepes with Pumpkin Butter Filling and Spiced Maple Pecan Syrup from Pineapple and Coconut
4. Vampire Delight Martini from Magnolia Days
5. Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookie Cups from Chocolate Moosey
6. Rice Krispie Candy Corn from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
7. Chocolate Peanut Butter Puppy Chow from The Messy Baker
8. Homemade Sour Patch Kids from What Smells So Good
9. Reese’s PB&C Pretzel Crust Pie from Hungry Couple NYC
10. Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake from Gotta Get Baked
11. Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
12. Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Crumb Blog
13. Pumpkin Pie Fudge from Juanita’s Cocina