Friday, October 29, 2010

Playing With Food

Wednesday was my friend Julianne's birthday, which gave me an excellent excuse to ditch work for the afternoon and bake a cake instead.

I know, I know, I promised I'd never talk about cake here...but I hadn't made a cake in forever, and this was really fun! It's butterscotch pecan with ganache filling, homemade caramel frosting (my first time making it, and YUM. That is all.), and then another thin layer of ganache and toffee bits on the outside because the caramel frosting looked ugly as sin. Heh.

And before you go thinking I'm some kind of "baker," I should tell you I use The Cake Mix Doctor religiously, and *always* start with a box mix. Judge away. I'm lazy.

That night we had a small pumpkin carving party. Julianne and her husband Ray are the parents of Ninja Baby (remember the Ninja Nursery?), and they kept to the theme by carving these two mini pumpkins:

I'm actually getting a Ninja Turtles vibe here.

Which only makes it better, of course.

And this is their last name:

Man, why can't my last name look that cool? Maybe I can get Ray to write out Yates in Chinese...

Our friend Mary is a home decor diva, and despite the fact that she and her hubby Jordan had never carved a pumpkin in their entire lives, they still managed to make this:

Sickening. Just...sickening.

I meant to carve that cute Harry Potter design for my own pumpkin, but as I was printing it out I found something else that I knew would make John very, very happy. So instead of Harry Potter, I carved this:

Yep, it's Puss n' Boots, from Shrek. This scene where he goes all big-eyed and cute is one of John's favorites - the only thing that made him laugh harder was the hairball scene, but that would have made for a pretty gross pumpkin. :)

(You can get the Puss n' Boots stencil for free here.)

John, meanwhile, spent this time cleaning and roasting pumpkin seeds, taking embarrassing pictures of the rest of us, and mocking Ray for having such tiny pumpkins:

John [in his Ah-nold voice]: "Ok, now hold up your ridiculous pansy pumpkin and look sad. Ya."

So in other words, John was being John.

So, now all we have to do is buy more Halloween candy (and promise ourselves that this time we won't eat it all) and wait for Sunday! We'll be watching Ghostbusters here with friends while doling out candy to the neighborhood kids. How 'bout you guys?


UPDATE: By popular demand, here's the recipe for the caramel frosting:

- In a medium saucepan, melt 1 stick butter with 1/2 c of dark brown sugar & 1/2 c light brown sugar. Bring to a boil.

- add 1/4 c whole milk and return to a boil

- remove from heat

- add 1 tsp vanilla & 2 cups of confectioner's sugar

- beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, & use immediately. (If the icing hardens too quickly, you can put it back on the heat to soften it.)


  1. My fave Halloween movie, to take me back to my childhood, is Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler. Or maybe we'll watch Idle Hands...both are awesome. :) Tomorrow is a Dia de los Muertos event and Sunday is a house party! Wooo!

  2. That cake looks HEAVENLY!!! And, in your defense, Alton Brown from the Food Network swears by box mixes. True story. He said they have stuff in there to make it better that you just can't buy for your own mixes. Box mixes FTW!!

  3. The pumpkins are gorgeous - LOVE the Puss in Boots design! Here in Patriotland, we'll be handing out candy on Saturday and doing who-knows-what on Sunday, thanks to the NFL's scheduling of a pro feetsball game in our town that will dump drunken revelers out on the streets right around trick-or-treating time... so our Town Fathers have decreed that Halloween is Saturday this year. *sigh* I understand, I really do, but it just won't be the same!

    Merry at Annie's Book Stop

  4. That's essentially what we will be doing, but it'll be a movie marathon of Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, and Nightmare Before Christmas. Saturday we carve pumpkins, Sunday we give yout candy. Love it!

  5. Oh come on, no recipe?! Not even for the YUM frosting?

    Up here in Finland we don't really celebrate Halloween - except copying random traditions from you guys. So no trick-or-treating, and nobody's even really sure on what date we should have the festivities.

    We'll be throwing a small spooky-dress party for the kids on Saturday, and I'll even carve my first pumpkin. Just a basic jack-o-lantern, that's exotic enough ;)

  6. Too bad you aren't in San Diego, they are showing Ghostbusters on the USS Midway tonight! Today I'll be decorating the porch for Sunday (with many inspirations from Etsy) and having friends over to eat the Halloween cookies I made earlier. Tomorrow is more decorating and costume prep (Aphrodite here I come), and Sunday is wandering around downtown gawking at costumes. I'll send pics of the cookies, porch, and costumes, you will get a kick out of me and my boyfriend at Disneyland last week :)

  7. I used the Puss in Boots stencil too! He's just so cute...

  8. My boyfriend is taking all 3 kids out to TOT along with my BFF and her oldest child. I am keep my twin 2 year old nieces to hand out candy at our house. BTW...That cake looks yummy!! WANT!!!

  9. We will be going trick or treating and Halloween parting with friends on Saturday all dressed as Indiana Jones (well I'll be the most recent movie's Marion, but my husband and 2 year old daughter will be Indiana Jones) and then Sunday we will be Farmers for a Fall Festival at a local farm. And perhaps a little It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown before sending the little one off to bed.

  10. How cruel of you to show us such a delicious looking cake and not share the recipe. :(

    Typical young and single Halloween weekend crammed pack full of party, party, party! But one is also a birthday party, another is a baby shower, and all will be costume-friendly. I did get a wee bit of baking fun in too by making delicious pumpkin pecan chocolate chip cookies (some with oats and some without) based on a recipe that bakerella posted. Now on to making the jello shots!

  11. I just invented a caramel frosting last week (my son turned 7)-I made my usual creamcheese/buttercream, and then whipped a few tablespoons of Trader Joe's Fleur de Sal caramel sauce (!) into it-not only is caramel just AWESOME, but that sauce has a touch of sea salt, which just makes it wicked. Now I have to go frantically sew costumes.

  12. Here in central Ohio, we did our trick or treat on Thursday. Because something awful will happen if we do it on real Halloween... apparently. I'm not sure.

    And the Puss In Boots pumpkin? ADORABLE.

  13. Dude. You tortured me yesterday with descriptions of Cracker Barrel breakfasts and the mere mention of Tijuana Flats, and today it's the cake. It looks so yumm! I'm baking and decorating cupcakes for a party tomorrow night and I hope they turn out okay.

    We'll take the little goblin trick-or-treating Sunday night. I'm not sure if we'll watch any movies... is 3 too young for Ghostbusters?

    (we'll probably get our halloween/scary movie fix tonight after bedtime)

  14. We're going to the Music of Harry Potter at the Calgary Philharmonic! Should be super fun - I don't do the costume thing, but there will be lots of people there to watch!

  15. Cake recipe...pretty please.
    Nothing special planned for Halloween.

  16. Love, love, love the Puss 'N Boots punkin! Here in not so sunny Sunnyvale, CA, we are taking mini Frankenstein A.K.A. Spencer out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood! Should be fun this year!!

  17. I'm dressing up as Kaylee Frye (of Firefly/Serenity fame) and handing out candy while fending my dog away from the kiddies and dying of asphyxiation because when my dog gets excited, she... uh, farts. A lot. Maybe I'll be Kaylee in a gas mask. :)

  18. I love the Puss in Boots pumpkin. My hubby laughed himself silly during that scene as well.

    We don't do Halloween much here in Australia, and normally nothing really happens round here, I usually end up eating the choccies I got for the neighbourhood kids myself, as they never turn up.

    This year, however, the choir I'm in is going to a nearby town to perform Handel's Solomon. It's going to be an epic bus trip full of choristers and chocolate and gorgeous singing.

    When we get back we'll be pretty wrecked, so I'm just going to relax on my couch and watch Hercule Poirot, which is on every Sunday night. This week it's "Halloween Party," so it's very appropriate really.

  19. This is one of those times where I wish I lived in America, you guys have such fun traditions! On Halloween I will be going on with my husband and son, probably to Pizza Hut, in order to avoid the surly youths who will inevitably come to my door wearing cheap plastic masks and demanding money. Halloween is fun here! In our favour though, we do get Bonfire Night next week!

  20. Hubby and I are trading off walking the kiddos around candy begging and doling out candy to other beggars, lol. Our small town has a parade at the official end of trick or treating of all the kiddos dressed in costume then a costume contest we will both be doing that one with the lil ones. Just so you know the official trick or treating goes from 4pm to 6pm.

  21. When I went to get my hair cut today, my hair stylist was trying on costumes. She said it was because her friend is getting married Saturday night, and the dress is either black tie or costume. That wedding ought to be interesting. I'm still debating whether I want to hand out candy or keep it all to myself.

  22. My mom and I will probably be attending a Halloween gathering as usual this year. A friend of ours always throws one and we sit around and eat candy (and give some out to the kids, too. ;3)

    I'm going as Mick Jagger. Mom's going as demon-Cher. Should be an amusing time. xD

    I hope you have a wonderful Halloween, Jen! That pumpkin you carved is FABULOUS.

  23. Halloween is my birthday so, hopefully, eating chocolate cake and opening presents! :-D Other than that - putting up all my Halloween decorations, carving a pumpkin for the first time and dressing up for a party! (I want to be a pirate but I might end up as a witch because it just suits me ;-)

  24. Have you seen this guy's pumpkins? Crazy wow!

  25. I didn't really like Shrek 2 as a film, but Puss was by far my favorite character and I laughed hysterically at him. As did my dad--he's a closet cat lover. That looking cute thing and then going evil is exactly what my cat does. I own the resin 12" statute that McFarlane Toys made of Puss--only 1500 were made!

    Thanks for the cake icing recipe. I'm not a baker or cook by any means, but I'm sure my mom and my in-laws will like it!

    My usual Halloween plans are being thwarted. My brother and I have a traadition of going to see the newest Saw film together and then going to a haunted house. However, he is out of town for work this weekend. BOO! So I am going to my parents' house to hang with my mom and my brother's wife. We're having a craft weekend--I am going to be putting together some shadowboxes per your inspiration! We're going to watch a few not-too-scary-movies, too, like Signs and the Exorcism of Emily Rose. I'm a horror film fanatic, but they are not.

    Thumbs up to Hocus Pocus, Trude! I love that movie, too! The cat is the best!

  26. I love the Puss in Boots pumpkin! I might try that for my next pumpkin.
    Dressing as Kaylee Frye is a great idea. I'd love to see that!
    My apartment unit has outer security doors, so I don't get any trick-or-treaters. I really miss handing out candy.

  27. I have made cakes from scratch, and I've made cake from mixes, and those from mixes always turn out better. I just add my own tweaks to them, and have used The Cake Mix Doctor myself. That caramel frosting sounds wonderful, and the pumpkins are awesome. I love that scene from Shrek, too.

  28. I don't care what it looks like, caramel frosting sounds DELISH!!!

  29. Your cake looks awesome! I have yet to bake a cake from scratch so I'm all for cake mix.

    The pumpkins you all carved are ridiculous (in a good way). Just for that, you should feel no guilt if you were to eat all the Halloween candy.

    P.S. My word verification is "dacti" which, if it doesn't already, should mean "a duck-shaped cactus."

  30. Cool pumpkins! I love Puss in Boots from the Shrek movies. Must have something to do with Antonio Banderas being the voice.

    We're trick or treating on Saturday instead of Sunday, as all the church people don't want things "of the devil" happening on Sunday night. Boo...

    My 2-year-old girl is going as Tinkerbell. I'm going to be walking with her/carrying her. I'm going to be dressed up as a witch. I have a wand from Harry Potter that lights up, so I'll probably carry it to provide a little bit of illumination. Hubby is either gonna tag along or stay home and hand out candy.

    Happy Halloween!

  31. I carved the Puss in Boots pumpkin last year! My rendition

    No big plans for Halloween though. We live in the boonies and nobody can ever find our house, so we never get trick-or-treaters. :(

  32. It sounds like y'all had a blast and those pumpkins are AMAZING!

    The cake looks divine.

  33. I second cake mixes FTW, and Cake Mix Dr. Love the Puss'n'Boots punkin. My boys had to paint punkins for school, so we didn't carve any this year. We will just decorate with Pongo and Stromboli. :-)
    My boys, baby girl, and myself are dressing as Plants vs Zombies: the boys are zombies, and the gals will be 'shrooms, since those are the night-time zombie fighters. And they are easier to make than peashooters, heh.
    Yay for Halloween!!!

  34. OMG love the pumpkins, especially the Puss in Boots one! We don't really celebrate Halloween in New Zealand, but I found that same stencil a few weeks ago and just had to use it, so I made it into a scroll saw project and cut it out of MDF for my wall (pics here)
    So adorable :)

  35. I don't know about Chinese, but in Japanese it'd probably be: イエーツ

    Hope you have Japanese on your computer (some do, some don't) so that doesn't look like a bunch of questions marks or boxes.

  36. I LOVE YOU for posting that caramel recipe. It's the first one ever that doesn't use sweet condensed milk (which for the life of me I can't find a German substitute for).

  37. The Cake Mix Doctor is the secret to everything good, I swear. :P

  38. tonight is trick-or-treat, so I am hauling children all over town, literally.

    but tomorrow night, hubby and friends and I are keeping with tradition and pulling out the rocky horror dvd :)

  39. Ah, Ghostbusters. I think I should tell you that before I left to study abroad for the year in Scotland, my family had a Ghostbusters movie night. It was a good send off.

    Oh and last night at the university's Halloween dance they totally played the song, all techno'd out. Ah, Europe.

  40. Puny pumpkins. Love it.

    Oh- I made a Harry Potter pumpkin this year! Great minds think alike, yes? Except you changed your mind... so, not so much.

  41. Had to share "Q" reading Edgar Allen Po. Too awesome! Love his voice.

  42. I did the Puss in Boots, too! (Loved that movie - I searched forever for a Farbucks mug and never could find one. Sigh.)

    Hubby and I will be taking our 3-year-old trick-or-treating in her "Woman Suit" (Wonder Woman costume). And then we'll probably steal most of her candy. ;)

  43. The cake sounds delicious. As for Halloween, I will be at work. Which is just fine by me, I'm not big on a holiday that to me is for mostly children or people who like to party (I have no kids and am not a big partier).

  44. Don't feel bad about using a cake mix. Many years ago, when my parents were first married, my dad insisted my mom had to bake cakes from scratch since that's how HIS mom always did it. So my mom produced one disaster cake after another, including one that actually was so uneven it fell on the floor. (Chocolate, too.)

    Finally, when visiting his parents, my mom in desperation asked her MIL to teach her how to bake cakes the way my dad liked. At which point Grandmother, bless her heart, went to the cupboard and pulled out a cake mix. Heh heh heh!

    That evening, as my dad was bragging on and on about how, "See? MY mom's cakes are made from scratch and they're always PERFECT!", Grandmother just got the box and plopped it down in front of him.

    Which is why I was raised on cakes made from mixes. :-)

  45. I used the Harry Potter template that you posted earlier to carve my pumpkin. It turned out really, really well but all of that detail took forever to carve!

  46. Sounds like a good time to me! I didn't get to do any of the fun Halloween stuff this year... but next year I will do it. In abundance! I did have a Frankenstein marathon.. I love Frankenstein. (And also Frankfurter. I might have watched that a few hundred times this last week). Anywho... I use the cake doctor books from time to time! I say, "judge away but you'll still eat my cakes and like it."

  47. Hee! We had a Puss n Boots pumpkin too because my DW pattern didn't work out. Just means our resident feline had a pumpkin portrait of his own this year. ; )

  48. Just wanted to show you a photo of my pumpkin that I carved. I changed the pattern a bit because... I'm lazy? Actually, last year I spent ages carving partway through an Alice in Wonderland pumpkin and finished by cutting my finger. I just didn't want to have to do that again. But this year's is still pretty cool!

  49. So, without knowing anything about a "Cake Doctor" I devised a Pina Colada cake...
    White cake mix, and for the water, use half water, half lime juice.
    Whipped cream flavor icing, and use 1/2 tbs coconut extract in that. Sometimes I get creative and dye coconut flakes with green food color gel and sprinkle them between the layers to make it look like lime gratings, and I sprinkle flakes over the top too.


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