Saturday, 3 November 2012

Halloween Down Under

So Halloween is not a big deal many other places outside the US.  It is starting to get bigger here now, but they still need to send out neighborhood reminders about trick-or-treating and putting out special signs if you want kids to stop by.

Doesn't stop my love of Halloween and treats with it.  I mentioned before the hubby and I planned a housewarming/halloween get together for last weekend.  The initial plan was to barbeque... this was a fail as we didn't get our act together to get a grill in time (oh but don't worry, we bought it the next day).

This meant a bit less picture taking for me as I reverted to plan B of food ideas and made a bunch of small appetizers and finger foods to go along with baked treats.

As promised: Pumpkin Cookies!  I was originally planning on decorating them with maple icing to look like pumpkins, but time did not allow for such things.  

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Susie (not sure of original source, but I have changed some stuff...)

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies


2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
(or if you are down under like me... ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp all spice)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 can (15 oz) 100% pumpkin (you can also use fresh made pumpkin puree... since canned pumpkin is a  bit hard to come by in Australia)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of mini dark chocolate chips


- Preheat oven to 375ºF (190º C)
- Combing all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Gradually add in the flour mixture at low speed.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Drop by rounded 1-2 tablespoons (I usually make them closer to 2 tablespoons with my cookie scoop!) spacing about 1 ½ inches in between cookies on the cookie sheet.

- Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges are lightly brown.
- Cool on baking sheets 3-5 minutes before removing to cool on wire rack.

Mmm there they are on the left.  My favorite cookies ever :)  The candy corn ones on the right looked fun (and were many friends first taste of candy corn!) but really wasn't the best recipe, thus does not deserve a post!

One more yummy recipe from my baking extravaganza... I wanted something apple flavored (again going with the New England fall stuff despite the warming weather here...) and decided to do a combination of recipes to make some caramel apple cupcakes.  Umm yeah... they really are that awesome.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Cinnamon Spice CakeAdapted from Annie’s Eats
Yield: 24 cupcakes


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 350°F (177ºC).
- Prepare muffin tins with cupcake liners or oil spray. 
- Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

- Beat eggs and sugar with mixer until thick ribbons form, about 5-7 minutes. Add flour mixture and beat on low just until incorporated. Add milk mixture and vanilla, and beat until blended.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst prepared baking tins. 

- Bake for 16-18 minutes and cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Apple Filling (my own recipe for applesauce slightly adapted for filling)

Yield: 2 cups
4-5 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced (I used pink lady)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs warm water


- Mix apples with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in saucepan.

- Cook over low- medium heat for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed but apples are still holding their shape. 

- Remove from heat and stir in cornstarch mixture.

- Cool until room temperature.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting (slightly adapted from my Mom's recipe)


2 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons of milk or cream

- Beat Butter and scraped out vanilla bean with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (about 3-6 minutes depending on mixer)

-  Add the powdered sugar and beat well until mixture is thick and paste like. 

- Add extract and 1 tablespoon of milk/cream. Beat well. 

- Slowly add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time to get proper consistency.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Putting it all together....

- After cupcakes have cooled, use a paring knife to cut a small cone opening out of the top.

- Press down slightly to make a larger hole in the center.  

- Fill with approx 1 tablespoon of apple filling and replace top.

- Frost with the vanilla buttercream.

- Drizzle caramel to top (I was lazy and used store-bought)

And there you have it.... super yummy... although this picture does not really do them justice!

Random pic from the week... with the warming weather, we can now enjoy coffee and other more exciting drinks on our patio.  Good times!

I'm off, but will have some fun posts from Sydney activities soon.  My sister just arrived from the states 2 days ago and we have been running around like crazy!  Show at the opera house, sightseeing, fun run... she is going to need a vacation from this vacation!

Enjoy the weekend!

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