Spiced Pumpkin Cake
Flavored with warming spices, this cake makes a lovely edible centerpiece for a Halloween gathering. After baking the two halves of the cake, attach them together with cream cheese frosting. Then let your creativity flow and decorate the cake with leaves and tendrils, or transform it into a spooky or funny jack-o'-lantern.
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
- 2/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup diced crystallized ginger
For the frosting:
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs. pumpkin puree (optional)
- Food coloring as desired
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of the great pumpkin cake pan; tap out excess flour.
To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts and crystallized ginger until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.
Gently tap the pan on a work surface to loosen the cake halves. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake halves cool completely before decorating.
Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide the frosting between two small bowls and stir the pumpkin puree into one bowl. Reserve the remaining frosting for decorating.
Using a bread knife, cut 1/4 inch off the flat side of each cake half. Place one cake half, flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the pumpkin frosting on top. Place the other cake half, flat side down, on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Add food coloring as desired to the reserved frosting (green for leaves and tendrils, orange for a jack-o'-lantern). To create leaves and tendrils, using a rubber spatula, transfer the green frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a leaf or medium plain tip. Pipe leaves and tendrils on the top of the cake. To create a jack-o-lantern, using a rubber spatula, transfer the orange frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Pipe an outline of the face on the cake, then fill in the design. Serves 12.
After several days of staring at cereal, I decided to go with Trix.
Trix or Treat Spider Cookies
1 package Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix
1 can of chocolate ready-made frosting
1 can of vanilla ready-made frosting
24-48 Trix orange and green sweetened corn puffs
Re-sealable plastic bags
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix ingredients for cookies as directed on the package.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to get similar sized cookies or just use a spoon and vary the amount for different size cookies.
- Place cookie dough on a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Bake for about 7-8 minutes.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Makes about two dozen cookies.
- Spread chocolate frosting on the top of each cookie.
- Fill a re-sealable plastic bag with a couple of heaping spoonfuls of frosting and snip a tiny hole out of the bottom of one corner.
- Pipe on three circles of white frosting for each cookie. Start in the middle with the smallest circle and work your way out.
- Take a toothpick and beginning in the center, drag it lightly through each circle. Repeat all the way around the cookie.
- Take remaining frosting and separate it into two bowls. Tint one frosting with orange icing color and the other with green.
- Fill two re-sealable bags with the orange and green frosting and snip off the corner of each.
- Pipe eight small legs with each color and place a matching orange or green Trix Cereal puff on the top of each pair of legs. Add one or several spiders on each cookie.