Category: tres leches

A monster mash-up of Halloween goodies!

And so here we are. As much as I can’t believe it, it’s fall. Another October, another Halloween is upon us. The air is getting drier & brisker… & yes, I do love this time of year. I’ll desperately miss my garden, fresh fruits, canning up a storm & the sunshine. This summer went by too fast & wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. But there ain’t no use in moping, especially about things I can’t control. Besides, this really is my favorite time of year. The best part, though, aside from Halloween (of course) is the fall baking. Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, allspice; all those delicious, warming, spicy ingredients. Not to mention the incredible creative opportunities Halloween gives you in terms of decorations!

……

Part of the charm & intrigue of Halloween is the fright factor. That things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-”what-was-that-sound” factor that gives you the chills- but you love it. The reason why people go on scary roller coasters or watch horror movies. That same feeling, that’s the best part of Halloween. I try to make that a part of everything I make around this time of year, not to mention I try to include the fall flavors that everyone loves. Of course, I’m biased. Like I said, this is my favorite holiday. I think some of my favorite things about it, in addition to the “scary” aspect, are all the traditions & symbols. It has such strong Celtic roots, I find the origins of the things we do today to be really interesting. Some of which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks in detail… for now:

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. For instance, the carving of jack-o’-lanterns springs from the souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory.[5] The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween,[6][7] but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.[6] The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837[8] and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.[9]

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy).[10] Among the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne in 1780, who made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert BurnsHalloween 1785.[11] Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters.[12] Black and orange are the holiday’s traditional colors.

I’m aware not everyone enjoys this day as much as I do, and I guess my personal opinion that they’re a bunch of boring, humorless stick-in-the-mud’s is irrelevant, but either way I think it’s fun & harmless. What could be more fun than dressing up as something you aren’t & getting free candy? I don’t know. It sounds pretty friggin’ amazing to me. So being it’s my favorite holiday, I have lots of treats for you to choose from for your spooky fall baking needs. I’ve done compilation posts before, as a matter of fact this past year, 2010-2011, I did one for every holiday, Halloween being the first. But being I did it early on each season, I excluded all the new ideas I had & implemented afterward. So this year it’s a truer compilation: all (or most) of my muffins, cupcakes & other treats; all with a Halloween or fall theme. Some are slightly more complex than others, but all of them are pretty simple when you get down to it & they really don’t take a lot of time or effort (or money, or experience really) to execute.

If you have any questions about where I bought supplies, etc, or just about the cupcakes/treats in general, feel free to comment or e-mail me.

CHOCOLATE STOUT CUPCAKES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE BONES TRUE BLOOD ORANGE CUPCAKES WITH CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES

DEVIL’S FOOD CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON RED-HOTS FROSTING DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

CHOCOLATE MALT CUPCAKES WITH FUDGE FILLING EERIE MONSTER CUPCAKES WITH SWEETMELT EYES

TRUE BLOOD VELVET CUPCAKES & CREAM CHEESE FROSTING BLACK LICORICE CUPCAKES & ORANGE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

JACK-O-LANTERN PUMPKIN MUFFINS PUMPKIN STREUSEL MUFFINS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

MARSHMALLOW BONES APPLE MUFFINS

CINNAMON VANILLA CUPCAKES & MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE FROSTING TRES LECHES COCONUT CUPCAKES

S’MORES CUPCAKES WITH MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM SPICE CUPCAKES WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING

And of course, if you’re looking for something in particular, you can always go through the archives, specifically the seasonal ones, like the pumpkin or apple categories. Another particular favorite of mine not pictured are the infamous apple cider donuts, they’re perfect for Halloween shenanigans. You could go bobbing for apple cider donuts! And if you’re into pumpkin seeds, I have two recipes, both plain & brown sugar/spice versions. And the two recipes second to last on the list, the cinnamon/vanilla & tres leches coconut, would both be perfect for Dia de los Muertos as well (which is what I used the latter for myself).

Almost any cupcake recipe or cookie recipe can be altered or decorated to fit in with Halloween. Use your imagination… you never know what you may come up with. If worse comes to worse, and you’re stuck for ideas, ask a kid! Kids have the best imaginations and come up with the best stuff, especially for Halloween. A kid’s brain works on a totally different level, they’re practically un-offended by everything, which is perfect.

And stay tuned this month for many more creepy (& not so creepy) fall-appropriate recipes & ideas.

Tres leches cupcakes for Dia de Los Muertos.

Did you all have a good Halloween? Hope so. I’m sad it’s over, but there’s more fun holidays to look forward to, right?

I love anything Day of the Dead. Sugar skulls & “Catrinas” especially. I love the entire concept of the day, really. It’s like a last hurrah after Halloween, when it’s still acceptable to have skulls out on display. I know I’m late by a day, but I was busy, so I couldn’t post it yesterday.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Due to occurring shortly after Halloween, the Day of the Dead is sometimes thought to be a similar holiday, although the two actually have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating is common.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe and in the Philippines, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

When I was young, my grandmother used to tell me about All Saint’s Day/All Souls Day, and although we aren’t Mexican, she’s Irish and the Irish have plenty of superstition and beliefs about the dead. I was just drawn to the way the Mexican’s celebrated it so boldly and not as melancholy or morbidly as the Irish do. It’s more like a celebration, and who doesn’t love celebrations? These dudes certainly do!

A few years ago I made sugar skull toppers and put them on cinnamon vanilla cupcakes with Mexican Hot Chocolate buttercream, and those would be an excellent choice for this day as well. But I’ve been there, done that. So here’s a new Mexican inspired cupcake idea.. tres leches cake! Tres leches literally means ‘three milks’ (which I’m sure you already knew). I love coconut so I thought this was a great way of doing the tres leches thing. Plus I had these little skulls made of sugar… so…

TRES LECHES COCONUT CUPCAKES (modified slightly from FoodNetwork.com)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed; add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the flour.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cake batter.
  4. Fill standard paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet to cool.
  5. While cupcakes are still warm, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Using a meat injector needle, inject each cupcake in several different spots with about ½ to ¾-ounce of the mixture. Or, poke several holes in the top of each of the cupcakes with a ¼-inch wooden skewer. Pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Big thanks to Yoyo for sending me that awesome skull table runner!


Sugar skulls photo courtesy of school33.org

I topped them with a Swiss meringue buttercream sprinkled with cinnamon and little icing skulls by Wilton that I bought around Halloween. Typically, sugar skulls are white and brightly decorated with multi-colored designs. I just used some Wilton gel food coloring and drew on designs to mimic the sugar skull-style using toothpicks. It’s easy to do and you really can’t screw up. If you want to, you could make royal icing and tint it different colors, then use a very small round pastry tip to create the detailed pattern, but it would take a lot longer (and the way I did it took long enough!). You can also create the same effect using a candy mold of a skull and colored candy melts. There are also sugar skull kits out there, they might come in a mini-size that’s perfect for cupcakes.

These cupcakes were amazingly moist, super tasty… and a bit sticky. The milks make it really moist but they also make it messy to eat. Worth it, though. Just don’t expect your liners to last long. I used liners called Reynolds® StayBrite™ Baking Cups that looked pretty but were also thick enough and foil-lined so that the liquid wouldn’t soak through and ruin the liners. If you use paper liners, expect them to be soaked through with the tres leches.

*Psst, I made a mistake and posted this early this morning with no photos, so if you saw this, then saw it disappear… now you know why!

The “painted” Wilton skulls…