I love Halloween. Probably because it occurs during my birthday month, but also because it’s super festive. Being a Japanese kid growing up in an international school environment, I will confess that I don’t really understand the true meaning of Halloween. Though I do know that it’s called All Hallow’s Eve and, I like to think of it as like the American equivalent of Obon or Dia de los Muertos. It’s a day to remember the dead although Wikipedia also states that it’s also a day to confront the power of death with humor and ridicule. Okay, Wikipedia has just made me more confused. Let’s just go with a day to celebrate and remember the dead. Though being a child I obviously was more interested in getting dressed up and going trick-or-treating. One of the perks of being an international school student is partaking in lots of different cultural holidays. While Halloween wasn’t a HUGE deal when I was little, I was able to go trick-or-treating thanks to the many expat neighborhoods in Tokyo as well as my friends who lived on the embassy. Dear American friends, thank you thank you for introducing me to the sugar-y delights of nerds, laffy taffy, sweet tarts and all the other American candies. I also thank my parents for, despite not knowing much about Halloween, allowed me and my sister to enjoy it. We may have been the one house in the neighborhood carving pumpkins, but I’m so glad that despite being Japanese you were patient enough to let us enjoy all these holidays.
Okay, enough wandering down memory lane. I made these super quick and pretty cute Jack-O-lantern pastries. For these I just used a store bought puff pastry and made a quick little pumpkin filling. Once they were baked, I piped the faces with melted chocolate. I also cut out eyes for in the pastry, but I think I like not cutting out the eyes better. They came out looking a little…um…let’s just say they didn’t look as adorable as this one. So let’s get started!
-1 sheet frozen ready made puff pastry, I’m using the Trader Joe’s brand.
-1/2 can of puree pumpkin
-1 tsp pumpkin spice
-1 tsp flour
-2 tsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the filling by mixing the pumpkin and the egg together. Add in the pumpkin spice, brown sugar, and flour and mix until well combined.
- Roll out the frozen puff pastry. You still want it to be cold. Don’t worry too much about the cracks in the dough, since they will act as ventilation.
- Using a pumpkin cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can. With one sheet, you will make around about 12 pumpkin cut outs, which means you’ll make about six. Of course this depends on the size of your cookie cutter. Once you’ve cut out the shapes, roll together the scraps. If the pastry has become too warm, roll into a ball and pop into the freezer until firm.
- Place half the pumpkin shapes on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon a little of the filling on top, about 1 teaspoon or so. Top with the remaining pumpkin shapes and seal the edges to make sure the filling doesn’t ooze out. If you want, you can brush the tops with some egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar and pumpkin spice.
- Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the puff pastry is a nice golden brown.
- Once the pastries are cool, melt some chocolate and draw on the Jack-o-lantern’s face. You can use a pastry bag, a brush or even a chopstick (that’s what I did).
These are so cute and I think people will love to see them on Halloween 🙂 If you want, you can also probably leave these pumpkins as they are, they look just like pumpkins without the faces and so would probably make excellent fall-themed snacks. Plus they’re pumpkin spice! We all know everyone’s a little addicted to pumpkin spice whether they want to be or not.
Hugs and Puppies!
Okay okay, so National Chocolate Day was yesterday. BUT I think it’s never too late to celebrate!
Here’s a few of my favorite chocolate recipes for you to try 🙂
Chocolate Cream Pie
Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
Chocolate Raspberry Cups
Of course being a chocoholic, I have MANY chocolate recipes that you can check out (though I will probably have to re take many of the photos from my earlier posts…even I cringe looking at them…)
Anyway, I hope you have (had) a wonderful chocolate day! I know I did 🙂
Hugs and puppies!
Angel pies or choco pies are my childhood. In case you don’t know, angel pies are a Japanese snack. They’re mini marshmallow sandwiching spongecakes covered in chocolate. I absolutely love them and they seemed pretty simple to make, just three components. So I tried them and they came out delicious. I used a spongecake recipe from the Joy of Cooking, which I got as a graduation gift from my family friends and then melted some marshmallows to make the filling and covered the whole thing in chocolate. My co-workers and Pat loved them and I’m actually dying to make them again. The problem is that they call for lots of eggs, so it’s not something I should be making a whole lot of. Also goodness knows how bad they are nutrition wise. I mean it’s just sugar, sugar and more sugar. But hey, they’re cute and absolutely delicious and they will for sure impress your friends!
So let’s get started!
-3/4 cup sifted cake flour
-1/4 cup milk
-3 tbsp butter
-3/4 cup sugar
-5 large egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
-2 cups marshmallows
-6 or 7 oz chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Spray nonstick spray on a rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment.
- Sift the flour in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a small pot, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted.
- In a separate bowl, whip together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. It should triple in volume and look like softly whipped cream. Mix in the baking powder.
- In three additions, sift in the sifted flour and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula (that way you don’t break the bubbles you just whipped into the batter.
- Add the hot milk and butter and fold into the batter until well combined.
- Pour into the prepared baking sheet and tap it gently on a flat surface to evenly spread the batter.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the top is golden and springs back when pressed gently.
- Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then place aluminum foil across the top and flip the pan over so that the aluminum foil is on the bottom and the pan is on top. Place the upside down pan on a flat surface and gently remove the pan from the cake. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the cake cools, place the marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and melt. I put them in the microwave in spurts of 30 minutes.
- Prepare the chocolate coating, by melting half the chocolate in 15 second intervals. Once all the chocolate has melted, add in the other half of the chocolate to temper the chocolate. This way, the chocolate will set and become solid at room temperature.
- Once the cake is cool, cut out circles of cake using a round cookie cutter or a glass. You should make about 20 circles. You can eat the leftover sponge or save it for making something like trifle. I just ate it. It was delicious.
- Pair up the circles. They will be the sandwich of the angel pie/choco pie. If you want it to be exactly like the store bought thing, take half the circles and dip the bottom in the chocolate and place on wire rack fitted inside a rimmed baking sheet. The excess chocolate will drip onto the baking sheet making for much easier clean up.
- Spoon a few dollops of marshmallow on half the circles, if dipping half the sponge circles in chocolate, spoon the marshmallow frosting on top of the chocolate dipped ones. It helps to spray nonstick spray (I used coconut from Trader Joe’s) all over the utensils. Trust me, spraying with nonstick spray keeps the marshmallow from sticking and is so nice. Make sure to leave a centimeter or two of the edge of the circles bare. The marshmallow filling will spread when you top it with the second sponge cake round.
- Place the second sponge cake round on top of the marshmallow filling and gently press so that the marshmallow reaches the edge of the sponge. Don’t worry if it start overflowing. Just take a small rubber spatula or a knife (covered in nonstick spray) and gently remove the excess filling. Or push it back up under the sponge with your finger.
- Place the marshmallow sponge sandwiches on a wire cooling rack fitted inside a baking sheet. Pour a little chocolate over each sandwich and using a offset spatula, gently spread the chocolate so that it coats the entire sandwich. If you don’t have enough, melt some more chocolate and pour on top.
- Let the chocolate set. If you are impatient, place in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes.
And that’s it! Now pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of milk and enjoy your homemade choco pie 🙂
My co-workers and boyfriend really liked these and I personally fell in love with them as well. I’m trying to find a way to make the filling better. I was thinking maybe using my meringue frosting recipe, which has clearly become a permanent fixture in my baking repertoire or making my own marshmallows. I might possible use a blow torch (because I got one for my birthday!) and change the sponge cake to graham crackers to make it a fun s’mores recipe. I’ll keep you updated!
Hugs and puppies!
Wha’s this? What’s this? I was asked to bake some halloween cupcakes for Pat’s co-working space 6th annual spookiversary this weekend, so I made 3 dozen cupcakes: vanilla, chocolate and green tea. I topped these cupcakes with chocolate ganache and meringue frosting (these are definitely my go to frosting recipes) and decorated them with homemade fondant. This is what they look like!
Is Nightmare Before Christmas too early for Halloween? Either way, Pat was playing the soundtrack and my halloween decorations turned into Nightmare before Christmas and I think they came out really cute! I’m not going to lie, the fondant took me about 3 to 4 hours to complete, but I was pretty pleased with the results. This was definitely a 2 day task, but I was super happy that everyone enjoyed them. Some people even told me I should cater for birthday parties or something :p I don’t know if I’m good enough for that, but I would love to give it a try.
I made these cupcakes again for another Halloween party and added some more characters like the Mayor of Halloween Town, Lock, Shock and Barrel, the Corpse Kid and the Mummy Kid 🙂 Next year maybe I’ll try some of the harder characters (i.e. the werewolf, a witch, the bone jazz group)
Anyway, let’s get started!
- Make your cupcakes
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make your fondant. Timing wise, it’s probably best to make the fondant a day beforehand (fondant lasts indefinitely if you wrap it well and store it in an airtight container, trust me, it’s literally just sugar and more sugar). Divide your fondant and make the various colors. Obviously if you have a lot of food coloring, you can just buy the shades, but in case you only have primary colors (I only had red, pink, blue, yellow, green and black) and need to mix some colors together, here’s what I did:
- Sally’s hair, Dr.Fink’s brain and lips: drop two or three drops of red food coloring into the white fondant and mix to get a bright red. Add the smallest amount of black food coloring (too much and it could turn out bad) and mix to get a rusty red color. I actually like to just take red fondant and mix it with a small amount colored black fondant.
- Hero’s nose and collar, pumpkins: Mix together equal parts red and yellow food coloring to get the orange color.
- Sally’s face: Sally’s face is a pale blue, so what I did was run my finger along the top of the food coloring to get the smallest amount of blue food color possible and mixed it with some white fondant.
- Oogie Boogie: Mix together some green food coloring with a dot of black food coloring to create a sickly swamp-y green.
- Purple: mix together equal parts blue and red. For a warmer toned purple, add more red, for a cooler tone, add blue. (Maybe I’ll make a fondant coloring post sometime)
- Grey fondant: Black fondant with white fondant. Alter amounts to control the shade of grey.
- And them make the faces! I used little dabs of water to make the fondant moist so that they would stick to each other. Also some chopsticks to help with the tiny details (i.e. stitches, eyelashes, etc.). Also wash your hands or wipe them after using dark colors like black and red or else the color will transfer from your fingers to the beautiful other pale colors, have a laptop handy so you can look up photos for reference and use PLENTY of powdered sugar if the fondant gets too sticky. Dust the surface with lots of powdered sugar. The worst thing that can happen is you finish your beautiful fondant decoration and it’s sticking to the surface that you’re working on. You can always use a damp paper towel or q-tip to gently dab away the powdered sugar.
- Sally (she is probably the hardest): Roll out the pale blue fondant and using a round cookie cutter, cut out the shape of her face. Cut small crescent moons for her eye lids. Take a small amount of the pale blue fondant to make her nose. For her eyes, roll two small amounts white fondant to create little sphere and then squish it between your fingers to flatten into circles. Place the eyes on her face and top with the little pale blue fondant crescents. To make her stitches, I mixed some light grey fondant with the pale blue fondant. Roll out two thin thin ropes and place one across the circle for her mouth and one vertically across her left eyelid. Add the stitches using the same color. Next take some black fondant and make two small spheres (smaller than her white fondant eyes) and place in center of her eyes for pupils. Next roll out thin, short strings for her eyelashes. Take red fondant to make her lips and use the rust-red fondant to make her hair. I found that making an oval shape of fondant and rolling it out works perfectly.
- Jack: Roll out the white fondant and using the same round cookie cutter for Sally’s face, cut out Jack’s face. Take the black fondant to make his eyes and stitches.
- Dr. Fink: Cut out smaller cirlces of white fondant (about a size smaller than Jack or Sally). Cut off the top of the circle (about 1 cm, and gently pull the bottom of the circle to make his lips. I gently pinched the center and kind of pulled it out. Make his brains and lips using the rust colored fondant. Roll the rust colored fondant in a small string and gently cover the bottom portion of the circle (the area that is his lips). Then roll out longer thin strings of red and roll them around each other to make the folds of the brain. I made a spiral and then some waves and then more spirals. Make his glasses and his eyebrows with the black fondant.
- Zero: Take a small sphere of white fondant and flatten it to make a circle. Pinch one end and pull it out a bit to make his muzzle. Make his ears by making thin short strings of white fondant and flattening them, making them more pointed at the top. Make his nose and collar with the orange fondant, his eyes with the black fondant and the rest of his body with the white fondant.
- Oogie boogie: Take the swamp-y green fondant and shape it into a circle, take the top and kind of like what you did with Zero’s face, shape the top into a point of sorts. Roll out the face so it flattens a bit and arrange the top tip to look more like Oogie’s head. Using the black fondant make his eyes, nose and mouth. Using a chopstick or some other thin utensil, pul around the edges of Oogie’s mouth to make his mouth look more sack like. Fill his mouth with “worms” by rolling thin short strings of colored fondant and placing it in his mouth.
- Graveyard/pumpkin patch: cut out a round circle of white fondant for the moon, roll out a bit of black fondant so that you get a lopsided log of sorts, it should be thicker on the bottom and thinner on the top. Flatten it a big and roll the thin side into a spiral. make mini pumpkins using orange and green fondant.
- Vampire doll: cut out small circles with your white fondant. Shape thin red fondant strings for the mouth. Place one horizontally across the middle and a shorter piece along the bottom edge of the fondant circle. Using black fondant, make the eyes, teeth, widows peak and ears.
- The Mayor of Halloween Town
- Corpse Kid
- Mummy Kid
- Let the fondant rest for a bit and harden on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. I found that rolling out fondant too thin results in breakage while transferring the fondant from wax paper to cupcakes.
- Frost your cupcakes with colored meringue frosting or ganache and top with your fondant decorations.
Hugs and puppies!
Meringues are pretty delicious snacks. I’ve always loved them because they seemed to me what the perfect mouthful. Like cotton candy, they just dissolve into a caramelized sweetness as they come in contact with your tongue. But what I like is that the meringue has a more lasting mouth feel. I’ve made meringues multiple times, plain, with chocolate chips or even with matcha (green tea).
I’ve been playing around with green tea a lot and I found that mixing the bitter earthy powder into these meringue makes these a sweet mouthful with a subtle hint of bitterness that perfectly balances the two flavors. I don’t know if meringues are normally a little chewy in the middle, but these meringues were. Perhaps it was because I didn’t keep them in the oven for long enough, or maybe it was a little humid outside. Either way I actually preferred them with this slightly chewy interior. Perhaps I have just been over baking meringues? Anyway these were perfect. The outside crumbled and dissolved into a sugar-y cloud in my mouth, but the interior was slightly chewy, like caramel that lingered and allowed me to really savor the flavors of matcha and sugar. Definitely delicious!
So let’s get started!
-2 egg whites*
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
-pinch of salt
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 tsp matcha powder
-1/4 tsp powdered sugar
-1/4 tsp matcha powder
*Use the leftover yolks for recipes like chocolate cream pie , I know I will 😉
- Preheat the oven to 225 ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix the egg whites with a electric mixture until frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until soft peaks form. Lift the beaters straight out of the bowl, the tops of the egg whites should droop over.
- With the mixer on high, beat in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
- After you add in the sugar, add in the matcha and beat until the whites form stiff peaks.
- Add the vanilla and beat until just blended.
- Spoon or pipe the meringue onto the baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. For chewier centers, pull them out of the oven after 15 minutes.
- Let the meringues cool and peel them from the parchment paper.
- Mix together the matcha powder and powdered sugar and sift over the meringues.
Store in an air tight container with layers of parchment paper or eat right away. I feel like you can make multiple different types of meringues with various flavorings. I’ve tried them with chocolate chips, which break up the air-y texture, but I think next time I’ll try chocolate shavings so that they melt and meld into the egg whites. Or perhaps I’ll flavor them with some jam? The possibilities are endless!
Hugs and puppies!
P.S. My friend has let me know about the at-home cronut recipe that Dominque Ansel has released. I have accepted the challenge of sorts, so please stay tuned for this, though I can’t promise that it’ll be soon!
I haven’t been updating the blog post in a long time, for this I deeply apologize. I have been baking! I swear! I just have a bunch of drafts sitting in my dash and I haven’t had the time to edit and upload photos to them. I apologize. I think it’s because I’ve been baking, but the food doesn’t look as good appearance wise. For example, my chocolate crinkle cookies. I made really delicious chocolate crinkle cookies, but they were more like balls than flat discs that cookies should be like. Oh well. I promise to take photos regardless.
Failed Pie #1 Don’t worry though, I have a good use for it 🙂
This morning, I made breakfast quiches, mini ones. I had been experimenting with apple pie. I made two, but I don’t think they’re exactly perfect and blog ready yet. My first pie came out too dry and my second one was good, but still lacked a little something something. Also since I was running low on AP flour, I had been experimenting with wheat flour, so the crusts were a bit of experiment as well. whoops, I’m getting a little off topic. Hehe I guess I just wanted to update you all on my recent baking exploits. I’ve also been kind of focused on building my food blog instagram 🙂
Anyway, let’s get back to these quiches. I made them pretty simple, with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. Of course if you’re vegan, you can omit the bacon and use egg and cheese substitutes and if you’re gluten free you can omit the crust all together. Either way, they were delicious. I made 12 and by the end of breakfast Pat and I had already eaten 7. Whoops?
Well let’s get started!
Whole wheet crust
-two cups whole wheat flour
-6 tbsp unsalted butter
-1/4 cup crisco
-6 tbsp ice cold water
-Salt and Pepper
-3 slices bacon
-1 cup grated cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup greek yogurt
-1/2 cup heavy cream
- Make the whole wheat crust: In a large bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour and the salt. Cut the butter and crisco into the whole wheat flour. Once the butter and crisco are cut to the size of peas and the mixture is coarse, slowly add in the ice cold water 3 tablespoons at a time and mix until the dough just comes together. Don’t over knead the dough, since this will cause gluten to form, however unlike AP flour, whole wheat has less gluten so it shouldn’t be too bad. Divide the dough into two portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge and let chill for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Place the bacon slices on a foil lined baking tray and bake until crispy (about 15 to 20 minutes). Once the bacon is crispy, remove from the oven and slice into bite sized pieces. If you are going to snack, make sure to bake more bacon 😉
- Grate the cheese and dice the onion.
- Melt some butter into a frying pan over low heat and add the diced onion. Sprinkle the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions over a low flame until they turn nice and caramelized (about 10 minutes).
- While the onions are caramelizing, make the filling. Mix the eggs, greek yogurt and heavy cream in a pourable container (such as a 2 cup liquid measuring cup). Whisk in the salt and pepper, about a three fingered pinch of each.
- Once the dough has rested, spray non-stick spray (such as Pam) over a 12 cup muffin tin. Divide the chilled dough into 12 equally sized balls. Flatten the dough until it’s about 1/2 inch in thickness and line the muffin cups with the dough. Press the dough gently into the muffin cups.
- Layer some grated cheese over the crust, add the caramelized onions, more cheese and bacon.
- Slowly pour in the filling to reach about a centimeter or two below the top of the crust.
- Sprinkle the top with more cheddar cheese (cheese is my life, aside from chocolate…shhh don’t tell chocolate I said that) and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool or eat straight from the muffin pan.
These were so good, I’ll definitely be playing around with mini quiches again. Maybe with spinach and goat cheese fillings or ham and gruyere cheese. The thing I love about quiches is that the filling options are endless!
Hugs and puppies!