Halloween holds a special place in my heart. When I was young, my dad, who was handy and creative, really got into the spirit with decorating our house. I loved the dressing up, the camaraderie with neighbors, and, of course, the candy. I was lucky enough to live in neighborhoods where there were massive groups of kids and parents roaming from one house to the next with hardly a dark porch in sight. Ever since moving to the East coast, however, it never has been quite the same. These days, we’re lucky if we get even two trick-or-treaters coming to our door and I live in a packed multi-family subdivision! My parents’ house is a bit better, but last year was the thinnest for adorable costumed kiddos I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it is a natural progression. Neighborhoods age out of trick-or-treating. But even so, I was fairly disappointed that I didn’t get to see more costumes. To distract myself I (naturally) started some baking/cooking projects that I hadn’t planned on (I even decided to skip “cooking” dinner and go french picnic style, imagining I’d be too busy opening the door and handing out candy to want to cook). So I checked the pantry/fridge and noticed we still had some frosting left over from our Purple People Eater Cupcakes, and, though I lacked chocolate chips, I had cocoa powder. So I decided to make Gail Dickinson’s Chocolate Sugar Cookies which reminded me a lot of my grandma’s Ginger Molasses Cookies.
My twist? Using the leftover buttercream frosting to make spider webs! Basically you just pipe circles on the cookie and use a toothpick to run through, making the webs. Or you can frost lines across the circles (I did both with mixed results). Let me tell you, these cookies are freaking delicious. They don’t suffer for lack of chocolate chips or other garnish. They are richly chocolate flavored without being overly sweet. I give these my hearty stamp of approval!
Mr. Foodie and I also carved our one mid-sized pumpkin. We attempted to make one of those complicated scenes from the carving kit, but gave up half way through and just carved a proper Jack-o-Lantern. As I was cleaning out the pumpkin, I went back and forth on whether I wanted to keep the seeds. The frugal cook in me was like “keep them!” but the lazy person in me was like “it is too much work getting the seeds ready!” In the end I spent a few minutes looking at ways to help simplify the process of de-pulping the seeds and settled on the warm water/salt version which only takes a few minutes. It worked well. I dried them on paper towels which had the unfortunate side effect of having the seeds get stuck to the towel, but I got them loose and then baked them for 20 minutes. Then I squeezed lemon juice over all, shook with some cayenne pepper and salt, and baked for 10 minutes more at 350. They are delicious. In the end, I was happy I kept the seeds. They kept my hands busy while I was trying to summon more trick-or-treaters to my door with my mind.
Once I resigned myself to the fact that the only trick-or-treaters I’d see that night was one cute witch and one even cuter baby bumble-bee, I relaxed and contentedly watched a series of Halloween movies with Mr. Foodie while sipping on leftover cider-rum from the party. Now the only question is what to do with all this leftover candy?
Chocolate Sugar Cookies (by Gail Dikinson)
1 Cup Butter, softened
1 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
2 Cups Flour
White sugar for coating
Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla extract. Mix together dry ingredients and add slowly to wet mixture (to prevent a cloud of cocoa/flour ending up in your face and all over the counter). Once it is combined and dough comes together, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to make balls 2-3 inches depending on your preference. Coat each ball in white sugar, set on lined baking sheet. Bake each sheet for 9-10 minutes until tops crack a little. Cool on rack and frost with webs if desired (also great without frosting).