Halloween-Themed Recipes By Edan Goode

The treats of Halloween don’t have to be limited to what you hand out at the front door. Make these fun cupcakes from FoodNetwork.com for upcoming Halloween parties or just for fun.

Wicked Cupcakes photo provided by FoodNetwork.com.
Wicked Cupcakes photo provided by FoodNetwork.com.

Wicked Cupcakes

Prep Time: 45 min.
Inactive Pre Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 min.
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 12 cupcakes, 2 cups frosting

Ingredients
Cupcakes:

1 1/2 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup prune juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
4-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 drop food coloring (green), optional
Chocolate wafer cookies
Licorice strips
Toasted coconut
Small candies

Special equipment: 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.

Directions:
For the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees F. Set liners in muffin cups.

Put the chocolate and prune juice in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on low power, stirring occasionally, until completely melted.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg and yolk with an electric hand mixer at high speed until slightly thick and lemon colored, about 3 minutes. Slowly add buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Divide the batter among muffin tins, filling them 1/2 of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed gently, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and cool completely.

For the frosting: Beat the butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and milk mixing until the frosting is smooth. Add food coloring as desired. Refrigerate the frosting until firm.

To decorate the cakes: For the witches hat, score a circle in the middle of a cupcake. Cut a deep cone-like shape with a knife held at an angle. Rotate the cupcake to complete the circle and remove the center. Repeat with all the cupcakes. Generously scoop or pipe enough frosting into the center of each cupcake to fill the hole and to come over the cake to make a face. Top with a chocolate wafer cookie. Put a dot of frosting in the middle of the wafer cookie and invert the cone-shaped piece of cake on top to make a witches hat. Use skinny licorice, toasted coconut or cereal flakes for hair and candies for eyes and/or nose. Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes before serving.

Visit FoodNetwork.com for more fun Halloween-themed recipes.

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But what will I do with my cupcake pans? By Edan Goode

In my last blog, I talked about the latest in food trends according to TheFoodChannel.com (scroll down to see). One of the items was small pies which are the new cupcakes. You remember last year, how cupcakes were the new, well, cake, replacing wedding cake with towers of cupcakes?  So now it’s small pies, eh? I really don’t see tiers of small pies gracing any weddings this year, but I could certainly be wrong. Imagine the bride and groom smashing a personal-size cherry pie into each other’s faces!

So if cupcakes are so five minutes ago, what am I to do with my cupcake pans? Being the (food) trend follower that I am, I rushed out and bought the standard size, the jumbo size and the mini size cupcake pans last year upon hearing of the cupcake trend! Not really, but I do have all of those sizes. So what am I going to do with them now? Use them to make pies, of course!

I gave it a go last night by making chicken pot pies in a standard-size cupcake pan. They tasted delicious and were somewhat attractive. But since I am spatially-challenged, I totally misjudged the size of the bottom and top pie crusts. Having learned my lesson (and being shamed by showing you the photos of my mishap here), I provide you with the correct measurements below.

Lopsided but tasty

Give the idea a try with the fillings of your choice – savory or sweet. Turns out cupcake pans make perfectly fine small-pie forms. Make do with this until you just can’t stand it any more and have to follow the trend and buy your own pans.  Even Williams-Sonoma carried an electric pie maker in the holiday catalog. I’m sure others will follow.

The chicken mixture just before filling the crusts

Edan Goode’s Chicken (Cupcake Pan) Pies

Ingredients (I winged-it a bit,  so amounts are approximate):

Three chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Two carrots, diced
One stalk of celery, diced
One onion, diced
Three cloves of garlic, diced
One bay leaf
Enough chicken broth to cover all of the above ingredients in a stock pot
1/4 cup cold water mixed with 3 tsp. flour to make a thickener for the mixture if needed
Two pie crusts (pre-made are just fine)

Directions:

  • Put the flour, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a gallon-size zipper bag or in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mix around until the chicken pieces are covered in the flour mixture.
  • In a stock pot, saute the dredged chicken pieces in a little olive oil until browned on all sides, shaking off excess flour from the chicken before adding it to the pan.
  • Remove the chicken and add the onion, garlic and veggies to the pan and saute until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the chicken back in the pan, add enough broth to cover the whole mixture.
  • Add the bay leaf.
  • Let simmer until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.
  • The consistency should start to thicken because of the flour used to dredge the chicken. IF it isn’t the consistency of a thick stew, add the flour/water mixture a little at a time, raise the heat and cook until it is thick enough.
  • Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  • To prepare the cupcake pans, lightly spray the insides and top surface of the cupcake pan.
  • Cut bottom pie crusts into circles 5 1/4″ across and top crusts to 4″ across for standard cupcake size pans.  Adjust to other size cupcake pans by figuring the bottom crusts need to fit within the cup but also extend over by about a 1/2 inch at the rim. The top crusts just need to lay across but also extend by a 1/2 inch.
  • Put the bottom crusts in the cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for about 2 minutes, just to take the raw-ness off the crusts. This will prevent the finished pies from having a doughy bottom.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and fill the bottom pie crusts with chicken filling just to the top of the cup. Cover each with their top crust, using a fork to gently seal the top and bottom crusts to each other.
  • Use a knife to make a slit or two in the top of each pie to let steam escape.
  • Put in the oven and bake 7 minutes. If the tops aren’t browned enough, keep checking a minute at a time. You’re really only baking the pie crust, not the filling.
  • Once done, let them sit five minutes. Then use an offset spatula or butter knife to first run around the edges of each pie. Then, carefully lift them out and place on a plate that’s right next to the cupcake pan (so as not to lose any yummy goodness in the transfer).

Finished product. Don't make my mistake - measure your pie crusts!

Now, think of other fillings like scrambled egg/sausage/potato/cheese combinations, veggies, fruit, any of your favorite pie fillings, savory or sweet.

There! You’ve kept your cupcake pans hard at work while being a trend setter!

Send me your “small pie” ideas, recipes and photos. I’d love to see them. (They couldn’t be less attractive than mine).