Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zombie Cake

I was having so much fun with the recipe for butterfinger dough, that I just couldn't stop with chocolate-covered fingers as a dish in themselves.
Since I was destined to make a cake for the Elementary School Halloween Carnival, I thought, "Hey. You know what else I could do with edible fingers? Make them look like they're coming out of a know, zombie-unearthing-itself fashion. That would be awesome!"
Too scary for elementary school kids?
I think not.
Have you seen the garbage parents let their kids watch these days?
So let's get this cake on!
First, find yourself some green apple candy corn.
Yep. Green. Apple.
It gives the peanut butter dough a zippy kid-tastic flavor that grosses parents out but kids will eat it up just because of that fact.
Take an overflowing 1/2 cup of the candy corn
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
and melt them in your microwave for about forty seconds then stir.
Keep going in fifteen seconds bursts until the candy corn is mushed completely into the peanut butter.
Add one to two drops green food coloring just to buff out that awful brown and make these puppies look extra rotten. 
Now, as before, feel your inner-child and play it up.
I did ten fingers, including pinkies and thumbs and there was some leftover for snacking.
To get the awesome curvature of real fingers digging themselves out of a bone-yard, I prepped a rolling pin with some parchment tucked around the curve and some rumpled foil underneath to prevent any actual rolling out of that rolling pin, the tricky little devil.
Place your ghoulish fingers across the pin and cool in the refrigerator.
Not pictured: the two 9x9 chocolate cakes I made.
Forgive the oversight and lack of picture. Someday my recipe blogging will improve, I promise.
Alrighty, get your powdered sugar and a medium bowl. Dump about a cup and half in there and give it a heavy dousing of red and blue food coloring. If you give it enough, it will be almost black.
Rad, right? Black icing? Alright, purplish-black.
but Halloween-y enough for our purposes. 
Now give your cakes a nice drizzle all over. Don't make it pretty. It's Halloween. Make it cReEpY. 
 Ready for the fingers? Make your hand look scary, like this, and use it to guide your finger placement in the top of your cake.
In a smaller bowl, whip up a smaller batch of powdered sugar, this time using green food coloring.
Using a cotton swab, dab the fingernails so these green things look like fingers and not worms. As I was assessing the cake after placement, I realized they could be confused with worms if effort wasn't made to made them look finger-like. So even, if these are the nails of a dead dude, we're gonna stick some gooey zombie blood on them just to be sure. 
Since you have extra green, go ahead and toss it around the cake. It looks good in green, too.
Ladies and gentlebeasts,

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sickening Sweets

So I know this is kind of short notice, considering the big Halloweenie is three days away, but if you are looking for some gory goodies to gross out your friends or neighbors...I've got a couple for you!
Before I begin, I need a big shout out to PINTREST, without whom, none of this would have been possible. Thanks, P-diddy. You've some wicked cool ideas.
Let's start with moldable, tasty homemade butterfinger dough.
Yes. Homemade.
Here's what you need;
16 oz. of creamy peanut butter.
a pound of candy corn.
You still with me?
Phew. I'm tired already.
Now, in a microwave safe bowl, melt the candy corn in the nuker for about a minute.
Continue to melt in 15-second intervals until it is no longer candy corn but candy mush.
Add your PB and stir.
You may have to pop it back into the microwave for a few seconds but keep stirring.
Put your back into it!
I know it looks ugly and about now you are wondering if this is a spectacular Pintrest Fail moment. Don't give it up yet! Keep stirring until it is a lovely orange glob of peanutty goodness.
While it is warm and pliable, dredge up some of that inner-child and go to town.
Make some fingers. 
...A funky pair of ears and some noses...
 Don't you just feel like a kid again??? Hurry up! The dough is cooling! And it will crack as it cools if you are playing too rough with it. Maybe you can enlist some little helpers to help you get through the dough.

  Now that you've had you modeling-clay fun, stick the figures in the fridge to cool completely.
Time to go find that bag of chocolate chips you've been hiding from the kids and put it in a double boiler to melt.
Add about a tablespoon of shortening to keep the melt want to be able to capture all the crevices in your art work and thick chocolate, although tasty, is a poor artistic medium.
To begin with, and to prevent premature dough-drooping, I just dipped the bottoms of each piece and put them back in the fridge to get the chocolate hardened.
After that, go find your basting brush, baby.
It's time to paint.
Using fine, even strokes, give your dismembered members a good licking (with the brush). I love the way the chocolate sinks into the crevices and enhances the arthritic knuckles on my witch's fingers. Don't be afraid to leave streaks and even a little naked dough shining through. This ages the pieces and even adds a slightly charred appeal.
Cool in refrigerator.
Not too shabby, eh?
 For the fingers, I mixed up some powdered sugar, water and green food dye for some witch-polish.
After the initial layering of chocolate has cooled, give those nails a coat or two.
Love love love these grotesquely edible parts!
WORD OF CAUTION: This makes a massive batch of dough...enough to fill the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan. For this project, I cut the recipe in half. If you have the help and need a bunch of these, go ahead and make the whole batch. If you are like me, and a lone entity in the kitchen, better half the batch and make your magic a tad simpler.
Next up:
Scared yet?
These little buggers are a ton of fun to eat and show off.
But they are a labor of love in the royal pahtookus to make.
I don't know, if you like long waiting, sticky messes and an hour of extruding slimy, wormy jello out of straws, this may be right up your fun-o-meter!
I hope I don't scare you off them. They are awesome and totally worth the extra effort for a good Halloween party treat.
Here's your grocery list:
6 oz. black cherry jello
3 sleeves unflavored gelatin (the box comes with four but you only need three)
100-150 bendy straws
a rubber band (or two)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups clear soda of choice
you can use 3 cups water. The soda helps with flavor.
non-stick cooking spray
a tall pitcher
First things first, pull out the accordion bend of all your straws. Pull them all to their tallest potential. This lovely rippled feature gives your worms their segmented look.
Using your ninja skills, wrangle the straws together into the rubber band(s) so the accordion-end is pointed down. Put your straw bale in your pitcher, making sure the straws do not exceed the pitcher's height and that there isn't a lot of room around the straws. If there is an excess of diameter room, try putting more straws in the pitcher or trying a different, thinner pitcher.
FYI: the straws will fill to the same point that the area surrounding them fills...i.e. if you stick 200 straws in a fat pitcher your worms may only be two inches tall. If you put 100 straws in a slim pitcher, your worms may as tall as the straw. I know that sounds better, but trust me that you are going to want about two inches of free-space at the end of the straw to aid during extrusion!
Got all that?
Alright. Quit fooling with the straws and lets make some jello. 
Boil two cups of your liquid, be it water or soda.
While that is heating, put your other cup of water or soda in a medium glass or metal bowl and add the three sleeves of gelatin and both packages of jello.
Let that sit together until the other is boiling. Add the boiled liquid to the bowl and stir until completely dissolved, about three minutes.
Now add the 3/4 cup of heavy cream and stir well. The cream will eventually separate from the jello but give it a stir anyway.
Pour this lovely, cloudy concoction over your straws into the pitcher, making sure, as I said, that you have about an inch or two of space at the top.
Chill for three to four hours or until totally firm.
Now, the fun.
You need to prepare a little work space for yourself in order to finish out these wormies. Get a towel, a couple of plates, your cooking spray, an extra bowl for the empty straws and a wide, shallow pan of hot water (not pictured in the picture below. Just out of camera shot on my stove)
Grab one of your plates and give it a quick spritz of cooking spray.
After you have ensured your worms are firm, run a butter knife around the inside of the pitcher to loosen the excess jello. If you can, yank the entire bale of jello straw worms out of the pitcher. If you cannot do this, don't fret. Both times I made these I couldn't get the suckers out.
Now that you are set up, grab hold of one of the straws and yank it out.
See the excess jello clinging? Run your fingers down the straw to clean it off.
Holding the end with one to two inches of head-space ( comes in handy) dip the entire straw in to the hot water for the smallest of seconds. This will loosen the jello and make expulsion easier. Wipe the excess water off the straw onto your towel.
If you have strong fingers, give the straw a steady, firm squeeze down its entire length. The worm should come out with a plop onto your prepared plate.
After about six of these, my fingers were dead. Looking at the other hundred and forty or so, I wanted to cry.
Then, a most genius fact came to my mind;
the human mandible is the strongest jointed system on the body.
I can hold the straw with my teeth!
Now hold on, I can see you cringing...give me credit here, folks. I had no intention of slobbering all over something I intended to give to others.
Very carefully, and avoiding any potential of contamination, I placed the empty end of the straw between my dry, recently brushed and sterilized teeth and used my fingers to extrude the worm from the straw. The outside of the straw was the only contact and seemed a reasonable trade-off to chronic carpel tunnel due to jello-worm-making.
This made the task ultimately more doable. I was able to get through all 150 straws in less than forty minutes using that technique. If it grosses you out, then find another way. Be creative.
After about fifty straws, spray the worms with a quick blast of cooking spray and put the plate in the fridge. Get another plate, spray it and begin another fifty straws. After that fifty, spray, refrigerate and move on. Every so often I would check the worms in the fridge to be sure they weren't congealing.
My first batch of worms were a near fail because they got too warm, were too wet and when they went back into the fridge, congealed together into a big lump of what looked like brain-matter.
Not so with batch number two!
I learned my lessons.
1-keep them cool
2-keep them slippery
3-keep them dry

 Aren't they lovely?
Have a fun Halloween, everybody!
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