Archive for the ‘Halloween’ category

Pumpkin Bars with Pecan Oat Crust

November 18, 2012

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8″ square pan and line with parchment.

Do not trim the parchment to fit on two of the sides so that it hangs over and will act as handles to lift the cold bars out of the pan.


For the Crust:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon all-spice

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

To make crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and oats.  Add cold butter and quickly but thoroughly break the butter up into the dry ingredients.  When broken down, some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, others will be the size of oat flakes.  Add the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine. I use the food processor to make quick work of this part. But you can do it by hand in a bowl if you’re a purist.

Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be our crumble topping.

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. It will seem like a thick crust, that’s how it is supposed to be.

To make filling:

To prepare the filling place softened cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pliable.  This will help the cream cheese be less chunky when combined with the pumpkin.

Add pumpkin and sugar  to the softened cream cheese and beat on medium speed.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that the pumpkin and cream cheese are thoroughly combined.  If the cream cheese looks chunky, switch to the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until most of the cream cheese lumps are incorporated. On medium speed add the egg and egg white.  Beat to combine (about 1 minute).  Add the spices, salt, and vanilla extract.  Beat to combine.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping .  Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  Resist the temptation to eat them warm! Trust me, they won’t taste half as good. Refrigerate until cold.

To store, wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

This recipe is courtesy of Joy the Baker


Popcorn Balls

October 12, 2012


1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
5 quarts popped popcorn
salt to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
5 quarts popped popcorn
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugars, corn syrup, butter and water. Stir and heat to hard-crack stage or 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Remove from heat, add vanilla and vinegar; mix well.
Pour slowly over popped popcorn while stirring. Let cool until you are able to handle. Butter your hands to keep corn from sticking  and shape into 3 inch round balls.Wrap in plastic food wrap and tie with a bow. Store at room temperature for up to a week.


Witch Finger Cookies

October 11, 2012

Makes 30

30 blanched almonds (no skin) painted with red
food coloring.
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 2/3 cup flour
Heat oven to 350 grease 2 cookie sheets
Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg and vanilla, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter, both sugars, flour and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture and beat until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
Divide dough in half, working with one half at a time (keep the other chilled). Divide each half into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface roll each piece back and forth, shaping into fingers 3-4” long, make knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with a knife to make finger lines. Transfer fingers to cookie sheet. Brush lightly with egg white and place almonds in the tips to form fingernails. Bake until lightly browned about 10 minutes.