Happy Halloween! Spooky Cute Cupcakes

Happy Halloween Everyone!!! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but I just got a new, super-awesome job, and it’s taking some time for me to adjust to my new schedule. I have been doing some baking, and I’ve got a few photos, but it’s hard to find time to edit and post them. I’m sure I’ll get used  to my new hours and routine soon, and then I can get back to a more regular posting schedule 🙂

 

I made these cupcakes to share with my new co-workers at a weekly department meeting. Nothing makes a meeting better than cupcakes!  One of my co-workers is dairy-free, so I made the ghosts safe for her to eat, but yummy enough for everyone to love.

Dairy Free Ghosts

I used Duncan Hines Devil’s Food cake mix for all the cupcakes, because the mix is dairy free (and also egg free).  So adding the water, oil and egg still made safe cakes.  for the frosting, I made Seven Minute Frosting .  Usually, you beat the mixture with electric beaters over a double boiler, but I don’t have electric beaters any more.   As an alternative, it’s ok to cook the whole mixture in a double boiler until it reaches 165F then pour the whole thing into a Kitchen Aid and beat it.  Pipe a big tall swirl onto each cupcake, and then use black confetti sprinkles to make a little face.

Spooky Sweet Grave Cupcakes

For these cupcakes, I used the same cake mix and then frosted with Chocolate Buttercream.  Crush some chocolate cookies to make “dirt” and roll each cupcake in the cookie crumbs.  I used Milano cookies for the tombstones and wrote RIP in melted chocolate. Add a mellowcreme pumpkin and some bone sprinkles and you’re all done!

 

Happy Halloween!!!

 

Tart Cherry Pie with Cook’s Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust

Fall is finally here, and I’ve decided that there’s no better time to dedicate some time to perfecting pies.  Up until now, I’ve used pre-made pie crusts (and they work pretty well), but I want to learn to make my own crust. This first attempt is the famous Cook’s Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust. This crust replaces half of the water with vodka. I believe the concept is that the alcohol will evaporate when baking and prevent a soggy crust.  For the filling, I made a simple cherry filling with tart cherries. Tart cherries are the only way to go, otherwise the filling is just a single note of sugar.

Vodka Pie Crust (from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar together. Place it in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and shortening and process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down sides and add the remaining cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 6 times. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the water and vodka over the dough and press together. Divide into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour to 2 days.

The dough was very wet, and it was a little hard to work with, but I only chilled for the minimum 1 hour.  Cook’s Illustrated is one of my most trusted sources, so I’m going to try their exact measurements a few more times before I try reducing the liquid. I would recommend making the dough the day before you want to bake the pie.

Tart Cherry Pie Filling (from Bake at 350)

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cans of tart cherries packed in water (3 cups of drained cherries)
  • 3/4 cup juice from cherries
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch, add the cherry juice. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and add cherries and butter. Stir to coat the cherries and let cool.

Roll one disk of pie dough and place in the bottom of the pie pan. Spoon all of the cherries into the crust then pour in the juice until it almost reaches the top. Roll our the second disk of pie crust and top the pie however you like. I chose a lattice crust (that  made a bit of a mistake on…whoops!) and I will make a tutorial on how to weave a lattice top pie. It’s easier than it looks! Place the pie on a foil lined cookie sheet to catch any drips and bake at 400 degrees for 55 minutes.

My pie came out a bit rustic looking, but it tasted fantastic. The crust was crisp and flaky. I look forward to trying it again and chilling it longer. I’m a bit new to pie baking, so I’m hoping they will become a bit more photogenic as the season goes on. Until then, pie is more about flavor than presentation and I like to think that the imperfections make it more charming.

Are you baking pies this fall? What’s your favorite pie flavor?