How fun are these? I make mini whoopie pies every Halloween.
Every year I try a different flavor for the filling: cinnamon, maple, eggnog, butterscotch, bourbon [Ed. Note: HELLO.] and this year, apple cider. This may be my favorite yet.
The secret ingredient to this filling is boiled apple cider. If you haven't heard of bottled boiled apple cider, don't worry, I didn't either until last year. It's a good product to have in your arsenal.
Ordered it online from King Arthur Flour www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/boiled-cider-1-pint and I've used it for muffins, cookies, cakes, pie, and it makes a great glaze for meats when mixed with whole grain mustard.
King Arthur Flour describes their boiled cider as "magically capturing the intense, robust flavor of just-picked apples, preserving it in liquid form." Couldn't agree more.
Kids love them, and adults do too (have passed them around on trays of finger foods and they were the hit of the night).
These little mounds of goodness hold well in the fridge for up to three days. Great for make-ahead parties.
Know there are many who despise the word "moist," but I will use it here, because the cookie part is, well, moist...and flavorful. All the autumn flavors packed into one tiny little mouthful of goodness: pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and apple cider.
Adapted from: Every Day with Rachel Ray (Whoopie Pies); Marbled, Swirled, and Layered by Irvin Lin (Apple Cider Cream Cheese Filling).
Number of servings: makes approximately 12-14 whoopie pies (with tablespoon scoop) and 20 whoopie pies (with teaspoon scoop).
Sometimes my BF and I like a little heat. Not scorch-your-tongue-off heat, but enough to have a little pop. Not sure why Halloween brings cravings for spicy food, perhaps I'm equating spicy-heat with devils and vampires.
This chicken is a one-pan meal with a side dish to boot, very simple to make, and packed with flavor. (Did you know you can stuff practically anything under the chicken skin for extra flavor? I've stuffed a mixture of spinach, mushroom, and Manchego cheese under the skin as well as several kinds of compound butters–truffle, garlic, lemon, herb–and it's out of this world.)
I found this jalapeño chicken recipe in the delightful cookbook Casa Marcela, by Marcela Valladolid. As she says, "For this one, you'd think there's so much heat from the raw jalapeño, but during the roasting it mellows out ... It also serves as a barrier between the flesh of the chicken and the direct heat in the oven, so the breast stays nice and moist."
I varied the peppers a bit because many jalapeños I find in local groceries are so mild they taste like green bell peppers. You can stick with just jalapeño (like Valladolid's recipe), or spice it up and use a mixture of serrano, fresno, jalapeño and/or even poblano. It's spicy, but not too spicy.
The chicken is roasted with baby potatoes so you have a side dish ready when the chicken is. In my house, we also serve this with black beans and/or rice for a South-of-the-Border-style meal. You can even shred the chicken for tostadas, enchiladas, or tortilla soup.
NOTE: Use latex gloves when handling chilies!
Adapted from: Casa Marcela, by Marcela Valladolid
Number of servings: makes 1 roast chicken
Top to bottom: jalapeño, fresno (red) and serrano peppers
November, 1995. It was my BF's birthday (he was not the BF at that time), and I remember making this first-ever attempt at baking a cheesecake. [Ed. note: To quote Private Hudson from Aliens, "Game over, man. Game over."]
Yes. This is the one. Try not to stick your fork through the screen–I dare you.
This delicious caramel bomb made repeat appearances that Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas, and at different times every year after that. My mamala begged me to make it every year for the holidays, and this year I'm making it for a client's Halloween party.
The body of the cheesecake is incredibly creamy (not dense), with a touch of orange juice and a good amount of sour cream. There is a perfect crust-to-filling ratio, and the caramel apple topping is to die for (the caramel stays soft and does not stick to your teeth and harden).
Keep in mind, this makes a large cheesecake (10 inches diameter). Perfect for any get together, my favorite is to offer this at Thanksgiving.
Funny story/cautionary tale: two years ago I made this for my BF again and cut the ingredients in half to make an smaller 8-inch cake (was also going to give half to a neighbor). Just as I was presenting the entire cake to him on a platter, I dropped it. The platter broke, little shards of glass flaked all over and into the cheesecake–unsalvageable.
We stared at the floor for the longest time. Curse words seethed through clenched teeth. Tears were shed. I will not lie, this is not a 30-minute dessert. There is preparation and time involved. (Really, you have to start making this the day before you plan on serving it.) However, the process is very straightforward and the end result is so worth the effort.
Just be careful with those glass platters!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit (September 1995)
Number of servings: 16
Because I ain't no Challahback Girl, I ain't no Challahback Girl!
Sorry, couldn't get Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" out of my head while making this pumpkin challah. No Doubt fans will understand.
I don't make homemade bread too often, as there are many extraordinary bakeries around me that offer all manner of amazing confections. But it was so worth making this particular bread at home. The aroma alone was intoxicating, and I've never seen pumpkin challah at any bakery.
Disclaimer: my BF is a writer-music-journalist and is meticulous with grammar, so he hates when I use too many !!!!!! [Ed. note: I'm letting this slide, but will need to see you after class.] But people, I mean, look at this challah! Oh my beloved October!
Pumpkin and challah is a divine combination. The inside is a gorgeous saffron yellow, the crust is laquered, and the bread itself is soft and has an ever so slight taste of pumpkin. You can taste it, but it doesn't overwhelm.
There is, however, much down time, and you can do other things while the bread is rising and baking. When fully baked this loaf of bread is hefty, the BF and I feasted on this loaf of love for a week (we've made deli sandwiches, grilled cheese, french toast, bread pudding, croutons and eaten it plain, slicked with honey butter or cranberry butter—my favorite).
If you're invited to a dinner party or perhaps a holiday dinner, and the host asks you to bring the carbs, consider bringing this gem of a challah. Bet you're asked to bring it the following year.
Adapted from: The Bojon Gourmet, Smitten Kitchen and Joan Nathan
Number of servings: Makes 1 large loaf
According to Joan Nathan, the secrets to good challah are simple: use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust, and don't overbake it. Also, three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves.
The countdown begins: twenty-seven days until Halloween. The pumpkins have found a rightful place in the house. Pumpkin lights are up and dare I say cinnamon-apple-cider candles are lit and wafting their collective fragrance throughout the house. The boyfriend is asking for caramel apple cheesecake—which is a sure sign that autumn is here (at least inside our house). He does not get as excited as I do for fall to arrive [Ed. Note: Perhaps it's the annual fall reminder of how aged I have become, but I digress], but does enjoy the autumnal foods and cute costumed kids ringing our doorbell on the 31st.
Although this post is not a pumpkin recipe [Ed. Note: Spoiler alert--next week], it's the perfect transitional dish through the end of our regular bay-area Indian summers, when the Oregonian in me is chomping at the bit for crisper "soup, sweater, boot" weather.
In the meantime, enjoy this healthy, flavorful soup.
Adapted from: A Beautiful Plate
Number of servings: 3-4 (makes 4 cups)
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.