Halloween

cathy7.img.jpgIt’s officially autumn, and you can feel the magic in the air. While some are sad to see the summer weather disappear, I welcome the new chillier climate with open arms.

As the colors of fall slowly emerge, bold crimsons, brawny browns and golds, I find myself easily seduced by the changing landscape. The rattling bronze oak leaves – some already dark chocolate and crisping at the edges – seem to awaken and enhance my imagination. In one swirling breeze I am energized and inspired unlike any other season of the year.

However, it’s the dashes of unexpected brightness brought about by Halloween that give me my biggest thrill. I have always admittedly been a "Halloween junkie." I can’t remember a time I haven’t been up for a little Halloween hijinks, including some kind of playful hocus pocus, a pumpkin palooza party or trick-or-treat fun.

My irresistible attraction to this holiday overflows into my cooking. I enjoy creating fun Halloween treats from common, everyday foods. This creation takes a classic white cake and icing recipe and easily transforms them into these individual candy corn cakes with orange-cream Icing. 

 

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peanutbuttercupckaesRich, dark, devilish. Like a big Reese’s peanut butter cup. The recipe for these cupcakes sounded amazing, although once I started following it I had to tweak it a bit to get it to work. When they were finished, they were sublime!

I used two 12-mini muffin tins to yield 24 tiny cupcakes. They have a small mound of peanut butter frosting on top, then a glaze of dark chocolate and a Reese’s peanut butter candy on top. I know you will love these once you try them.

They are even great right out of the freezer!

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dragqueen.jpgI live in West Hollywood, where Halloween is like a national holiday – arrangements for street closures have been made well in advance and people from all over will come watch the flagrant and the flamboyant, the political and the theatrical,  the absurd and the sublime march along Santa Monica Boulevard, from La Cienega to Doheny. Candy is not an integral part of this spectacle and frankly that's the only thing that rankles me about it.

One year, the Wicked Witch of the West wheeled along the Boulevard with an enormous crystal ball that housed terrorized miniatures – Dorothy, Toto, and the other Oz pilgrims were all cowering on the yellow brick road within her bubble. Another year, there were several Menendez brothers, wearing blood covered v-neck sweaters and conservative haircuts. Then another year, there were groups of huddled Titanic musicians playing desperately as their ship was sinking (or, I should say, as the parade was passing them by).

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candycorncake.jpgCandy corn—you either love or hate the candy. I used to despise candy corn as a kid. I'd always be disappointed If ever anyone gave me candy corn when I went trick or treating. What, no chocolate?

But as an adult I came to appreciate a nibble here and there of candy corn. Maybe it's the melt-in-your-mouth sweetness, but I think Halloween just wouldn't be the same without it—whether you like it or not. If you happen to have bagfuls of leftover Halloween candy, why not use it all up in these sweet treats?

Shortbread makes a perfect base for many cookies and none more so than these bar cookies. They're spread with melted white chocolate and then topped with colorful candy corn. Everyone will love the sugary sweetness—just make sure your family and friends don't eat too much because you don't want them turning into cookie monsters.

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porchI am a person who remembers absolutely everything. I remember being sick when I was two years old and believed (one, hopes, due to fever and not psychopathology) that tiny men were marching out of my laundry hamper. I remember the first day of kindergarten, the exact words in the note from Eric saying he didn’t like me that way in fifth grade, the way the flap of skin looked after I jumped on a clam shell in Maine when I was ten, and the phone numbers of all my friends from high school.  I remember the way the air smelled in Boston on a day when it carried the ocean into the City, and the diesel smell of the streets in Europe. I remember slights and offenses and try hard to forget them. I remember generosities and kindnesses, and try to cherish them.  I remember to do the things I say I’m going to do, unless I’m under enormous stress. (That’s a whole different issue).

So remembering things about Halloweens past should be easy, right?  All of the pumpkins, and costumes, and cobweb-covered porches should transport me back, like Proust in Rememberance of Things Past:

And suddenly the memory revealed itself: The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.

No dice. I love Halloween; in general I prefer the autumn holidays because they don’t happen in summer (which I dislike) and I don’t have to buy gifts, decorate the house or forget to send cards again.

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