Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Candy Cake

Inspired by this:

I made these:

I made five of them for the cake walk at our church Trunk-or-Treat party last night. They look deceptively difficult but are in fact, a breeze.

I used two 6" cake rounds stacked on top of each other (you can get the pans at your local WalMart) and 14 fun-size Kit-Kats for each cake. I iced the layers with my favorite chocolate icing and then just stuck the candy bars on the sides and candy corn on top.  (If you try this, I would recommend sticking the Kit-Kats in the freezer before handling. It made them much easier to unwrap and put on the cake without getting fingerprints all over them.)

With very little work, I had some totally awesome small cakes for the cake walk.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gingerbread House Cookie Dough

It only took me 10 months to get this recipe up, but here it is, just in time for the Halloween Gingerbread house making fun. This stuff will make walls so sturdy you can drill right through them without fear of breaking them. 

I forgot to cut a notch for lights, so we just drilled, baby, drilled!

  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/3 cups light or dark molasses
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour


Line 12 x 15-inch rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. (I just cook it on the back side of a jelly roll pan because (a) I am cheap and (b) I am thrifty. See pictures below.)

In a small bowl, whip cream and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. Set aside.

Homemade vanilla. Yum.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon.

Beat in the molasses and whipped cream mixture until well-combined.

With mixer running, gradually add flour, beating until completely mixed.

(I use an old-school Bosch. It handles this recipe with no trouble at all.)

Lightly flour a pastry board or mat. Roll out a portion of the dough until flat, but not so thin that you cannot pick it up without it tearing. Drape it over the rolling pin and move to the prepared baking sheet.

Continue rolling the dough to an even thickness on the baking sheet. This is easily achieved by placing two equally thick wooden strips on either side of the baking sheet to support the rolling pin. An even thickness is important. Lower areas will bake darker in color and be more brittle. You will need about 2 cups of dough for each 1/8-inch thickness, about 4 cups for each 1/4-inch slab, and about 6 cups for each 3/8-inch slab.

Bake two sheets of dough at a time.

After 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness of slab), position your gingerbread house pattern cut-outs as close together as possible on the sheet of cookies. Cut around the pattern with a sharp knife, remove the pattern, and separate the scrap pieces (may be baked later to eat. Mely's note: We just eat 'em while they are warm and soft!!!! A big glass of milk and you could almost consider it a meal. Almost.)

Return house pieces to the oven, swapping their rack positions, and continue to bake.

Bake until fairly firm in the center. The temperature and time will vary with the thickness of the slab. For 1/8-thick slabs, bake in preheated 300 F. oven for about 1 hour; for 1/4-inch slabs, bake at 275 F. about 1-3/4 hours; and for 3/8-inch slabs, bake at 275 F. about 2-1/4 hours.

While the pieces are baking, any remaining dough may be rolled out for cookies or additional decorative gingerbread house pieces.

The darker color of these was because they were made with blackstrap molasses.
When pieces are finished baking, loosen gently with a flat spatula and let them cool on the sheet another 5 to 10 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.

At this point, you may wrap the gingerbread house pieces airtight in plastic wrap and store up to one month. Or proceed to assemble and decorate your house or cookies using icing cement (below).

Yield: about 9 cups dough, or 4-1/2 slabs 1/8 inch thick, 2-1/2 slabs 1/4 inch thick, or 1-1/2 slabs 3/8 inch thick. Each full slab is 10 by 15 inches.