Here is a sweet, spicy and crunchy Halloween snack sure to please: Sweet & Spicy Popcorn
Crunch! This easy to make caramel corn
gets its spicy kick from a full 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper added to
a sweet caramel syrup that gets poured over a big bowl of freshly
popped popcorn and salted peanuts before baking in the oven until
nicely crisped, browned and crunchy. The resulting popcorn crunch is
delightfully addictive with its unusual crisp caramelized sweet/spicy
flavor. To make this recipe really easy, use microwave popcorn! I used
around 2 1/2 packages of buttered PopSecret Microwave Popcorn. The
butter and extra salt in the microwave popcorn give the finished
caramel crunch an even better flavor. Here is how you can make yours:
You can find the full recipe for Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Crunch here.
If you are using microwave popcorn, go ahead and pop up about 3 bags.
Pour 2 1/2 bags worth of popped corn (minus the uncooked kernels) and 1 cup salted peanuts into a
large bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
a medium pot over medium heat melt together the butter, sugar and corn
syrup. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the heat
up to medium-high and continue to cook until golden brown and bubbly.
Swirl the pot occasionally so the syrup doesn't burn, this should take
around 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the
salt and cayenne pepper then immediately pour mixture over the popcorn
and stir to incorporate. Try to cover as much of the popcorn with the
syrup as possible. Divide the popcorn evenly between the two baking
sheets and bake for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Caramel Apples- the quintessential Halloween party treat. Flash-back to lots of sticky caramel stuck in little teeth and
apple juice dripping down little chins. Lots of fun then but how to recreate that idea with a more grown-up twist for now?
Hmmm....how about Caramel Apples with Bourbon Laced Caramel, White
Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and for an extra spicy/salty kick: crushed
Wasabi Peas and chopped Wasabi Almonds?! These are seriously good: the
wasabi peas and almonds are the perfect spicy and salty compliment to
the sweet white and dark chocolate while a touch of bourbon adds a
little extra smoky flavor element to the buttery caramel before
crunching down into the tart, crisp, juicy apple. Don't you just want
one now? Here is how you can make your own:
This recipe will make approximately six small-medium sized caramel apples. You will need: • 22 oz. (2 bags) Kraft Premium Caramel Bits (or 22 oz. of regular caramels unwrapped) • 2 Tbls. of bourbon & 2 Tbls. water (or you can just use 4 Tbls. water) • 6 small-medium sized apples, all appoximately the same size and shape • 6 sticks (some bags of caramel will come with sticks/can also find at hobby shops) • white chocolate candy melts or white chocolate • dark chocolate candy melts or dark chocolate • wasabi peas (can be found at Trader Joe's) • wasabi almonds
apples that are relatively small as they are easier to coat in the
caramel. I used bright green Granny Smith apples because of their crisp
tart flavor/texture and relatively uniform shape and smaller size.
by washing the apples really well in warm water with some vinegar
added. The vinegar helps remove the wax found on the outside of the
apples. If you leave the wax on the apples the caramel will slide right
off! After scrubbing the apples remove the stems and dry them
thoroughly. Using your sticks, carefully skewer each apple thru the
stem end going down an inch into the apple to secure.
together the 2 Tbls. of bourbon and 2 Tbls. water with the 22 oz. of
Caramel Bits into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally
with a silicone spatula or spoon until the caramel is smooth and
melted. Hold an apple by the stick over the melted caramel and coat
with the caramel by spooning over the apple letting the excess drip off
back into the pan. Transfer the coated apple to the lined 1/2 sheet
pan. Repeat process with remaining apples then place pan of apples in
fridge to chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
While the apples are
chilling, crush the wasabi peas to a fine crumb using a food processor.
I wanted to go for the texture of Shake-N-Bake so I made mine as fine
as possible. Place the finely crushed wasabi peas in a wide shallow
bowl. Using the food processor again, chop the almonds until they are
fairly fine. Place the chopped almonds in a wide shallow bowl and mix
with some of the crushed wasabi peas. (Of course you can always keep
your peas and almonds chunky if you prefer!) Set bowls aside.
the apples have finished chilling, place the white chocolate candy
melts into the top pan of a double boiler set over medium low heat- try
not to let the water boil. Alternatively you can melt them in the
microwave, following the instructions on the bag. When the white
chocolate has become smooth and melted, remove the caramel apples from
the fridge. Holding the apple by the stick, quickly pour the chocolate
over the apple using a spoon. You will notice that the chocolate will
start to melt the caramel.
Just keep working quickly and transfer the
apple back onto the 1/2 sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining apples and
place pan into fridge for a minute or two to lightly set the
chocolate. Remove from fridge. Holding the apple by the stick
roll/press it into the wasabi peas and/or almonds going all around the
sides, about half way up the apple. Repeat with remaining apples. When
finished, place the apples back into the fridge for another 20-30
While the apples are chilling, melt the dark chocolate
melts in the top bowl of the double boiler (or use the microwave) until
smooth and melted. I poured the melted chocolate into a large squeeze
bottle to drizzle over the tops of the apples but you could easily just
use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the apples. Remove apples
from the fridge and drizzle the dark chocolate over the tops of the
apples letting it run down the sides of the apple. Sprinkle chocolate
with remaining crushed wasabi peas and almonds. Place apples back into
the fridge to chill completely.
When apples are finished
chilling you can either serve them (they cut easier when left out to
room temperature for a little while) or you can bag them up for gift
giving or party favors. I made a "leaf" tag for my apples and tied each
bag with a bright orange ribbon. For even more tips and ideas for
caramel apples check out this great site: King Arthur Bakers. Whatever flavors you decide to use, everyone will love these caramel apples!
Decorated Sugar Cookies are a fun and festive way to celebrate the
season. Who doesn't like getting a big colorful cookie with their own
name iced across the top? Or how about a whole platter set out for a
buffet? The cookies can be used as party favors or even place settings
at a dinner. There are so many different cookie cutters to choose from,
its best to start with simple shapes until you become more proficient
at decorating. I made a bunch of these 5" pumpkins with this cookie cutter
using a simple sugar cookie recipe and decorated with royal icing.
While the whole decorating process can be time consuming, I have a few
tips for making the process easier and that produce consistently good
results. I thought I would pass them on to you:
• Sketch out a design for your decorated cookie before baking—
This saves time by showing how much icing of each color will be needed
and the placement of the icing when you start decorating. To make a
design, trace the cookie cutter onto paper and use colored markers to
indicate where the icing will go. Try to stick to two colors (three
colors max!) and keep the design simple. For each color you will need
an "outline" icing for piping and a "flood" icing for filling in
between the outlines. The outline icing in firm and holds it shape when
piped and is great for details. The flood icing in a more liquid
version of the outline icing and spreads easily creating a smooth even
• Roll out the dough to a precise thickness, usually 1/4"— A consistent thickness ensures even baking for all your cookies. You can use these handy rings that fit over your rolling pin or just use two slats of wood that are the correct thickness and roll dough out between them. • Chill rolled dough before cutting— Chilling the rolled dough until firm ensures the cookie cutter will make perfect cutouts with nice crisp edges! • Chill cut-out shapes- I actually freeze my cutouts
before baking! The colder and firmer the cut out shapes, the better
detail in your finished cookie and the cold dough really helps
discourage spreading in the oven. • Before mixing royal icing make sure all utensils are grease-free-
Fat and grease are the enemy of royal icing as they break down its
texture. To ensure a grease-free surface, wipe down your bowl and
beater with some vinegar before washing thoroughly with soap and water.
You can find an easy recipe for royal icing here.
• Use a squeeze bottle to decorate with flood icing— Flood icing
is the thinner icing using to "flood" the main shapes on your cookie.
Squeeze bottles are easier to use and fill than piping bags plus they
are reusable. You can find squeeze bottles here.
• Let finished decorated cookies dry, uncovered over night before packaging or stacking—Letting
the cookies dry thoroughly ensures that your masterpieces will not be
smeared or dented when you place them on a buffet platter or into a
cute gift bag.
• For lots of decorating ideas and more tips try this book: Cookie Craft by Valerie Peterson
Why not break out your rolling pin and your imagination and try some decorated
sugar cookies this holiday season, remember you can always eat the
I came up with this Hazelnut Linzer Cookie recipe by simply
substituting some of the all-purpose flour called for in my standard
sugar cookie recipe
with hazelnut flour. Hazelnut flour (I found this flour at Trader Joe's) has a slightly nutty flavor and
subtle texture that creates an aromatic dough with little flecks of
ground hazelnut throughout. To further the hazelnut flavor I added in 2
teaspoons of Frangelico Liqueur (a hazelnut liqueur) along with the
vanilla in the recipe. Linzer cookies are sandwich cookies that are
usually filled with a fruit jam or spread. I decided to use Nutella
Chocolate spread in most of my cookies. The Nutella intensifies the
hazelnut flavor and who doesnt love chocolate?? Some of the cookies I
spread with a seedless raspberry jam. This recipe makes 23- 2 1/2" sandwich cookies. They bake
up slightly crisp and buttery with a nice hazelnut flavor accent and texture
from the hazelnut flour. The addition of the Nutella or raspberry jam
and a light dusting of powdered sugar is the perfect finishing touch to
turn a regular cookie into something really special. Here is how you
Rolled Sugar Cookies Recipe (adapted from the Cookie Craft cook book) Makes approximately 23- 2 1/2" round sandwich cookies • 1 cup (119 grams) of hazelnut flour • 2 cups (357 grams) of all purpose flour • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 2 sticks butter at room temperature • 1 cup sugar • 1 large egg at room temperature • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • 2 teaspoons Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur or hazelnut extract • Nutella Chocolate Spread • Seedless Raspberry Jam • powdered sugar for dusting
baking sheets with parchment or Silpats and set aside. You will also
need a 2 1/2" round cookie cutter and tiny cookie cutters for the
center window cut-outs.
Whisk together the flours and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and
fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla and Frangelico until well blended.
Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until well combined into a
Turn dough out onto a work surface and roll to 1/8 inch
thickness. At this point I like to freeze the dough until stiff, it
makes it easier to cut out the shapes. When the dough is fairly stiff,
use a 2 1/2" round cutter and quickly cut out rounds—a top and a bottom
for each sandwich—placing onto the prepared baking sheets. Use a tiny
cookie cutter to cut a "window" from half of the rounds.
These will be
the tops. Re-roll scraps and repeat. When all the rounds are cut, place
in freezer again for around 30 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When 30 minutes are up, bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes or until
lightly brown around the edges.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack. When
completely cool you can lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over the
"window" cookies for decoration. I left some of mine bare because I
like the rustic look of the dough. Carefully spread a small dollop of
Nutella or jam on the "bottom" cookie and top with the "window"
cookies. If you are not eating them right away, store in airtight
container in the fridge.
To give these as a gift, I used a 4"x2"
plastic bag and cut out small squares of wax paper to place between
each cookie, stacking them into the bag. I used a grosgrain ribbon to
tie the top and made a tag to glue on the front saying what's inside!
Chocolate, Banana, Peanuts: They all come together brilliantly in this delicious Chocolate Banana Muffin! The author of this recipe featured in the cookbook Baked From The Heart says that this muffin "has all the great flavors of an ice-cream sundae"
and I agree! These moist chocolatey muffins with sweet banana and a
touch of salty peanuts are easy to make and a terrific treat. They are
not overly sweet and have a rich velvety chocolate flavor. This is how
you make them:
Chocolate Banana Muffins (adapted from the Baked From The Heart Cookbook) makes 12 muffins • 2 cups flour • 1/2 cup Dutch-Process Cocoa (i used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder) • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature • 1 cup granulated sugar • 2 large eggs, room temperature • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract • 2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (around 5) • 3/4 cup chopped, salted peanuts
a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers or you can use parchment
squares like I did. If you would like to try parchment squares, cut out
twelve 6" squares from a roll of parchment paper (you can find
parchment paper in the grocery aisle with the aluminum foil and plastic
wrap). Lightly spray your muffin tin with Pam then push the parchment
squares into each cup, pushing the paper down to fill. The Pam will
help the papers stay in the pan. After all the papers are in place, set
the pan aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl,
whisk together the flour, dutch-process cocoa, baking powder, and salt
(it is important to use dutch-process cocoa for this recipe or the
muffins won't rise). Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in
an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the two eggs and
vanilla extract until well combined. Mix in the mashed bananas. Add the
dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don't over mix! Spoon the
batter into the cups. You can see in my picture that I filled the cups
pretty full. If any batter gets on the papers or the pan try to wipe it
off before baking so they don't burn. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes
then remove from oven and top with the chopped salted peanuts. Return
to oven and bake for another 8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted
into a muffin comes out clean.
Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to
cool. Don't let them cool in the pan or the papers will "steam" off of
the muffins. Enjoy your muffins right away or pack them into zip-lock
baggies to freeze and enjoy later!
When my friend Gigi heard I was baking bread she asked me to try a
favorite of hers called Anadama Bread. This bread is well know in
Massachusetts (where she lives!) and is very popular. I happened to
come across the recipe in "The Bread Baker Apprentice" and decided have
a try. Although it takes a while to make this bread, the process is
easy and you will be rewarded with an absolutely delicious preservative
free sandwich bread that freezes up perfectly (just cut into slices and
freeze in a zip-lock bag) meaning you can have delicious toast whenever
you want! This recipe will make 3 generous one pound loaves of amazing
soft-textured bread made with cornmeal and molasses that is perfect for
sandwiches and toast. If you have any leftovers, use to make croutons
or french toast! Here is how you can make some:
The recipe for Anadama Bread can be found here.
This bread is a two day process, but it's not hard to make! The day
before baking make the "soaker". The soaker is a simple combination of
cornmeal and water that you let soak overnight. This is supposed to
help bring out more flavor in the finished bread as well as softening
the cornmeal. The next day, lightly Pam three loaf pans and set aside.
Stir together 2 cups of the flour, yeast and soaker in the bowl of an
electric mixer. Let ferment for about an hour then add the remaining
flour, salt, molasses (i used mild molasses) and shortening (i used
butter instead) and mix with the paddle attachment until it comes
together into a sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix until the
dough becomes pliable and supple but no longer sticky. Transfer the
dough to a large lightly oiled bowl and lightly coat the dough with
oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for around 90 minutes.
When finished rising, divide the dough into 3 equal balls and shape
into loaves. Place each into one of the three oiled loaf pans and coat
the tops with a little more oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise
again for around 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough rises just above
the sides of the pan.
During the last 30 minutes of proofing, preheat
the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has finished proofing, place
the three loaf pans on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate
the pan and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown with an
internal temperature of 185 degrees.
When done, immediately remove the
loaves from their pans and let cool on a rack for at least an hour
before cutting. The bread actually continues to "cook" while it is
cooling. If you cut into it too soon the texture will be soggy or
gluey. When the bread has finished cooling completely, cut into slices