If you have waited until today to start thinking about Halloween, you’ve come to the right place. I am the Queen of Last Minute, the Empress of Wing-It, I’m the Joker, I’m the… I could start singing a Steve Miller Band song here but, that might date me just a little.
Anyway, over the years, I have learned that simple is almost always best and that enjoying your own party is the key to throwing a good party. Who wants a stressed out hostess? And more important, who wants to do dishes after a party they really didn’t even get to attend because they were too busy in the kitchen?
Not throwing a party? No matter, your family wants you having fun with them, not in the kitchen!
Just remember, it is all in the presentation. If you smile and don’t apologize, no one will ever know that you didn’t spend days in the kitchen and that what they see is not exactly what you planned.
This year, once again, I made elaborate plans to do things BIG for Halloween. Maybe a spook house in the front yard? a new costume for the dog? black lights? Something fun for the kids who are brave to ring the doorbell. Once again, projects and deadlines and programs got in the way and I have scaled things waaay down to some “build your own” Slow Cooker Machaca Tacos for dinner and these fast and easy Halloween Cupcakes on Carrot Cupcakes that I make with a “fancied-up” cake mix. I add fresh grated carrots, pineapple and walnuts to a spiced cake mix, top with a super easy cream cheese frosting and… WaLa! The cutest Halloween cupcakes ever! And yes, if you have been a foodie friend of ours for a while, you did see them last year. Who said you can’t replay your families every year. Your family doesn’t have to know you made something twice because you ran out of time and this recipe is familiar and you know you won’t mess it up… just tell them that they loved it so much that you made it a tradition. Believe me, they will love them.
Here are a couple of tips for making Halloween Ghosts on Carrot Cupcakes super fast:
- I use a spice cake mix and turn it into a carrot cake, if you are super busy, just use a cake mix as is (shhhhh, if anyone asks, I didn’t tell you to).
- Make extra frosting. I can’t say this enough. Make extra frosting. It doesn’t matter what I am making, if it requires frosting, I make extra. That way, you have extra so you can scrape off mistakes and start again. It may take one or two cupcakes before they get that “I’m alive” look to them.
- You can use a piping bag and decorating tip if you have one but, using a “zip bag” with the corner cut off will work as well and you won’t have to worry about getting the tip out of the messy bag and washing it… just toss it in the trash.
- If you use a “zip-bag” start by cutting a small whole in the corner and testing the size of the frosting you pipe out. If it is too thin, you can always cut bigger. If you start out with a big hole, it is a lot messier to switch bags. You could always place the bag with a too big hole in side of another bag and cut the smaller hole in the new bag. Saves time and mess.
- MOST IMPORTANT TIP-Make a small mound of frosting in the center of the top of the cupcake. The mound should be about as tall as the last segment of your finger and about a 1/2 inch wide. Pipe the frosting around the mound to form the ghost. The mound is important for shaping the ghost and for giving the ghost the structure to stand up without falling over or looking too thin.
- Don’t spend too much time looking for chocolate covered pomegranates for the eyes. Chocolate covered raisins or chocolate anything is fine. Even mini chocolate chips are fine. If the raisins are too big, cut them in half and stuck the cut side into the frosting (is where the Empress of Wing-It comes in).
- I make sure to have extra cupcake papers as well. Totally not necessary but, sometimes the papers look a little less for wear after baking. I just slide the cupcake, paper and all, into a fresh paper before serving. If you are lucky to find those cute Halloween cupcake papers, you can bake them in the regular cupcake papers and then put the cute Halloween paper over the top of the other one so that it has a fresh look. Again, totally not necessary, I’m just a nut sometimes.
One of my favorite tips from our 200 Appetizer Cookbook is to have several chips and dips or cheese plates around for your guests or family to snack on while you are getting things on the table. It keeps the “Is it done yet?” questions to a minimum. I’m putting out Donna’s Jack-O-Lantern Cheese Ball this year with lots of veggies as well as crackers. It’s good to have some actual food around and not just sweets.
- 1 package spice cake mix without pudding (I use Duncan Hines)
- 1 package Jello Brand vanilla pudding (4 serving size)
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 cups carrots, shredded
- 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 oz butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 chocolate covered pomegranates
- or mini-chocolate chips per cup cake
- Mix together the cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, and water. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Fold in shredded carrots, pineapple and nuts.
- Spoon batter into cupcake papers.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Beat together cream cheese and butter.
- Slowly add powdered sugar.
- Beat until fluffy.
- Mix in vanilla.
- Spoon frosting into pastry bag or zip bag (cut off one corner).
- Pipe a mound of frosting in the center of each cooled cupcake.
- Pipe a spiral circle around the base of the frosting mound and pushing out to the edge of the cup cake. Make the circles smaller as you go up. Pull the pastry bag away leaving a little “tail” at the very top.
- Place pomegranate seeds or chocolate chips in the position of eyes and mouth.
- Refrigerate until serving to keep the frosting from wilting.
—posted bu Sandy