Haunted Gingerbread House

Haunted Gingerbread House

Start gingerbread season a little early this year with a spooky display for Halloween. Make gumball pumpkins, chocolate tombstones and a scary (but candy-sweet!) monster hiding inside the house. …

Level: Advanced
Total: 4 hr 

(includes chilling and setting times)

Active: 1 hr 45 min
Yield: 1 gingerbread house

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookie Dough:

3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap and preferably golden, mild or sorghum molasses)

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decorations:

12 ounces white candy melting wafers

1 cup ready-made chocolate frosting

12 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed to fine crumbs

2 cups woven corn cereal squares 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

12 ounces black candy melting wafers

Candy buttons

Black food color marker

3 ounces green candy melting wafers

1/4 cup green sanding sugar

 

Chocolate sprinkles

2 chocolate chews

3 to 4 round gumballs

3 ounces orange candy melting wafers

3 chocolate-filled rolled wafer cookies

Black sanding sugar

4 pretzel sticks

3 chocolate snack cake cupcakes

2 mini break-apart chocolate bars

Directions:

Special equipment:  a 14-inch cake board or large serving platter and 4 disposable piping bags

1. Make the cookies: Sift 3 cups of flour, the ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and molasses. Mix until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until a thick dough forms. If the dough is sticky, mix in the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough can easily be handled without it sticking to your fingers. You may not have to use all of the flour.

2. Gather the dough into a ball; divide in half. Roll each dough piece flat to 1/4-inch thickness between parchment paper sheets. Transfer the dough inside the sheets to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Print the Haunted Gingerbread House Walls and Roof Template (link below) and cut the shapes out with scissors. When the dough is well chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and peel back the top sheets of parchment. Lay the templates on the dough and cut around them using a flat-edged knife (do not discard the templates). Transfer the dough shapes to the prepared baking sheets. Leftover dough can be re-rolled and cut into cookies, or you can shape it into a baton and store it in your freezer for up to 1 month.

5. Bake the shapes for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. While the cookies are still warm, lay the templates on top of the baked cookies and re-cut them using a knife. This will help the shapes fit together perfectly when you are assembling the house.

6. Assemble the house: Place the white candy wafers in a heatproof bowl and cook at 100 percent power in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Stir well after each interval until the candy is smooth (this should take about 1 minute total cook time). Transfer the candy to a disposable piping bag with a small hole in the end snipped (you may also use a zip-top bag with the corner snipped). Use cans from your pantry to help prop the house pieces up as you work. Glue the sides, front and back of the house together using the white melted candy. Let stand until dry, about 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, prepare the landscape: Spread half of the chocolate frosting over a 14-inch cake board or serving platter. Sprinkle the surface with the cookie crumbs and press them down slightly with flattened palms. Save leftover cookie crumbs and frosting for later use.

8. When the candy holding the gingerbread walls together is dry, gently lift the assembled house and place it in the center of the prepared board. Pipe white melted candy along the top edges of the house and attach the roof; hold the pieces steady with your hands until they hold on their own, about 2 minutes. Pipe extra candy around the roof edges and walls to fill in any visible gaps.

9. Place the corn cereal in a bowl or zip-top bag and add the cocoa powder. Mix together until the cereal pieces are well coated with cocoa. Pipe a line of candy on the bottom edge of a roof piece and place cereal pieces end-to-end in a single layer to make roof tiles. Pipe another line of candy just above the first row of cereal and add another row, slightly overlapping the first. It’s okay to use broken cereal pieces, as this will add to the character of the haunted house. Cover the entire rooftop with cereal. Pipe candy on the front and back top edges of the house and line with cereal squares. Allow the house to stand at room temperature until the candy is set, about 15 minutes.

10. Make the windows and door: Print the Haunted Gingerbread House Windows Template (link below). Place the template on a flat work surface and cover it with a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Melt the black candy wafers in a heatproof bowl and cook at 100 percent power in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Stir well after each interval until the candy is smooth (this should take about 1 minute total cook time). Transfer the candy to a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped. Pipe the candy over the black boxes (windows and doors) on the template. Use a toothpick to push the candy into small corners and to fill in gaps. Make as many windows as you wish for your haunted house by moving the template under a new sheet of parchment paper. Place candy buttons in each of the smaller windows before the candy is set. Use a food color marker to draw on eyeballs. Allow the candy to stand until set, about 15 minutes at room temperature or 5 minutes in the refrigerator. Peel the candy boxes with eyes off of the parchment and use a little melted candy to attach them to the top front of the house. Position each window tilted inward slightly. Attach the larger candy rectangle below the 2 windows to create the door. Use the white melted candy (reheat if necessary) to pipe dots on the top and bottom edges of the door. Use a toothpick to pull the melted candy into points to create fangs.

11. Make the monster arms: Melt green candy wafers as previously directed with the white and black candy wafers. Transfer the candy to a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped. Lay a sheet of parchment on a work surface. Pipe a 4-inch L shape on the parchment paper with the green candy. Use a toothpick to smooth the candy into an arm shape. Use the toothpick end to pull the bottom of the L shape into fingers. Pour green sanding sugar over the top portion of the arm, leaving the hand uncovered. Place a chocolate sprinkle on each finger to create long claws. Allow the shapes to set until firm. When the candy is firm, peel it off of the parchment and shake the excess sugar off of the arm. Repeat this process with a backwards L shape so that you have 2 monster arms. Attach a candy window with melted candy to each side of the house and hold until set, about 2 minutes. Attach an arm to each window and hold until set. Further decorate the sides and back of the house with more windows. 

12. Create boards for the windows: Knead 2 chocolate chews together and roll flat with a rolling pin (if the chews are too firm to flatten, heat them in the microwave for 5 seconds). Cut small board shapes (about 1/4 inch by 1 inch) from the candy using a knife. Use the end of a toothpick to striate the pieces. Use the pointed end of the toothpick to poke 2 small holes in each end, creating nail holes on the boards. Attach the pieces over the windows using melted candy.

13. Make candy pumpkins: Carefully poke holes in the gumballs using a metal skewer or knife, and thread them onto the pointed ends of toothpicks. Melt the orange candy wafers as previously directed. Dip the gumballs into the candy and place them on parchment paper. Remove the toothpick. Use leftover chocolate chews to fashion small pumpkin stems. Place them standing upright on top of the pumpkins. Allow to stand until set, about 15 minutes.

14. Make spooky trees: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use the black melted candy (reheat as needed) to pipe 3 well-spaced lines on the cookie sheets. Place a rolled wafer cookie on top of each line. Use the black candy to completely cover the wafers. Draw tree branches with the candy coming off of both sides and the top ends of the wafers. Cover with black sanding sugar. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes.

15. Meanwhile, make the pretzel ladder: Break 2 of the pretzel sticks in half. Place 2 whole pretzel sticks parallel to each other. Attach the broken pretzel rungs to the whole pretzel sticks using melted candy. Let stand until set. When firm, lean the ladder against the house, preferably leading up to a window with eyeballs peering out.

16. When the trees are firm, lift them from the parchment and shake away excess sugar. Place each snack cake on the cake board upside-down and press a candy tree in its center. Cover the snack cakes with leftover cookie crumbs, if desired.

17. Make tombstones: Place leftover chocolate frosting in a piping bag. Break the chocolate bars at their perforations. Pipe a small dot of frosting onto the crumb-covered cake board and press an upright turned chocolate piece into the frosting. Repeat with remaining chocolate pieces to create a graveyard.

18. Finishing touches: Use melted white candy to pipe spider webs onto the house. Use the food color marker to draw cracks on the house, and spiders near their webs. Place the pumpkin decorations on the landscape and around the house as desired.


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Mummy Hand Pies

Mummy Hand Pies

This easy, Halloween-inspired recipe can be made ahead and served later as a scary-good party dessert.

Level: Easy
Total: 55 min
Active: 25 min
Yield: 6 hand pies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Kosher salt

 

2 refrigerated pie crusts, thawed if frozen

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 large egg

12 raisins

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

 

  • Add the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of salt to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

 

  • Roll out 1 pie crust on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to form a rectangle about 9 inches by 12 inches. Square off the crust with a knife, reserving the scraps for decorating. Cut the pie crust into 6 equal rectangles, each about 3 inches by 6 inches. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

 

  • Roll out the other pie crust to the same thickness as the first. Cut into thin strips about 1/4 inch wide and 7 inches long. Repeat with the reserved dough scraps. Transfer the strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

 

  • Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling to the center of each rectangular crust. Use the back of a spoon to spread out the filling, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the edges. 

 

  • Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to brush the edges of the pies with the egg wash. Layer the strips of dough, varying the angle of each strip to create a “mummy” look. Seal the edges with a fork and use a paring knife to trim the overhang. Lightly brush the tops of the hand pies with the egg wash. Add 2 raisins to each hand pie for the eyes. ‘

 

  • Bake, rotating the pan halfway through for even color, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a baking rack slightly, about 5 minutes. 

 

  • Serve as is or decorate with a simple icing. Combine the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon water. Stir until smooth and glossy. Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag and snip off the corner. Pipe the icing onto the hand pies using the stripes of pie crust as a guide. Serve.

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Honey roasted fig & almond tart

Honey roasted fig & almond tart

Delicious, sweet and fruity pud, great served with cream or ice cream – make the case with bought pastry

ready in 1½ -1¾ hours, plus chilling time

MORE EFFORT

SERVES 8

Ingredients

 

500g pack shortcrust pastry at room temperature, thawed if frozen

8 ripe figs, stalks trimmed

finely grated zest and juice of one large juicy orange

 

 

1 tbsp clear honey

200g softened butter

200g golden caster sugar

200g packet ground almonds

2 medium egg yolks

Method

1. Preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a shallow loose-bottomed 25cm flan tin. Make sure the pastry comes above the rim – it may shrink in baking and the filling could spill. Chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut the figs in half lengthways and sit them cut side up on a roasting tray. Mix the orange juice and honey in a bowl, pour over the figs and roast for 10-12 minutes until just soft. Drain off any juice into a saucepan and reserve.

3. Prick the base of the chilled pastry case all over with a fork, then line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to fan 130C/conventional 150C/ gas 2. Leave the pastry case to cool slightly before filling.

4. Cream butter and sugar in a food processor or with an electric beater until smooth and pale. Tip in the ground almonds and zest and whizz briefly to combine. Add egg yolks and 1 tbsp of the reserved fig juice and whizz again until smooth. Spread evenly over the pastry case.

5. Gently press the figs cut side up into the almond mixture. Bake for 11⁄4 hours or until it’s golden all over (don’t worry if the centre still seems soft – a little gooeyness is good). Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove sides and transfer on its base to a wire rack to cool.

6. Before serving, take the tart off its base and transfer to a flat platter or board. If you have juice left from roasting the figs, bring it to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes until sticky and syrupy. Brush this over the figs and serve as soon as possible, while the syrup is still glossy on the figs (it will start to seep through into the filling if you leave it too long).


Honey roasted fig & almond tart
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Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce

Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce

PREP: 40 MINS
COOK: 1 HR40 MINS
MORE EFFORT
SERVES 4

Available from August, this game bird is best served with a fresh, full-flavoured fruit sauce and a dash of whisky to boot

Ingredients

 

4 young grouse, legs removed and reserved

50g unsalted butter

4 thyme sprigs

1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped

4 slices pancetta

4 slices white country bread, buttered

buttered spinach, to serve (optional)

For the sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
8 grouse
legs (see above)
1 shallot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
2 tbsp whisky
600ml chicken stock
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
50g blackcurrant, topped and tailed
50g cooked beetroot, coarsely grated
1 tbsp crème de cassis

Method

1. First make the stock for the sauce: place a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. When it is hot, melt the butter with the sunflower oil. Add the grouse legs and brown in the pan for 4-5 mins, turning regularly. Add the shallot, bay leaf, thyme and whisky, and reduce the heat. Allow any liquid to evaporate, then add the chicken stock. Press the legs down in the stock so that they are all covered. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook gently for 1 hr.

 

2. Discard the legs. Strain the stock into a clean pan and reduce, over a medium heat, until you have about 300ml. Allow this to cool, then cover and chill if not using immediately. Can be done a day ahead up to this stage. You can finish the sauce once the grouse are cooked.

 

3. Clean the grouse: remove any remaining feathers, and rinse the birds inside and out with cold water. Pat them dry with kitchen paper. Divide the butter between the cavities of the birds, and add to each a thyme sprig and some chopped shallot. Season the birds inside and out, and wrap a slice of pancetta over the top of each bird. The birds are now ready to cook, but can be chilled for several hours if necessary – allow them to come to room temperature before you cook them (this will take 1 hr or so).

 

4. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Place the grouse in a roomy roasting tin and the buttered slices of bread on a baking tray – they will toast at the same time as the grouse cook. To cook the grouse to medium, put in the oven for 18-20 mins. Keep an eye on the toasts and remove them when they are golden brown. The grouse are cooked when the breasts feel firm to the touch. If you have a cooking thermometer, cook them so that the thickest part of the breast, just above the wing, registers 55C.

 

5. Remove the birds from the oven. Place each on a piece of the buttered toast to absorb any juices that drain from the birds. Cover loosely with a piece of foil and leave to rest for 10 mins while you finish the sauce.

 

6. Put the roasting tin on the heat and, when it is warm, add the grouse stock. Let it simmer, scraping the juices from the bottom so that they dissolve in the stock. Add the redcurrant jelly, blackcurrants, beetroot, and finally the cassis. Simmer the sauce for 3-4 mins, then remove from the heat and season to taste. Serve the grouse on heated plates with a little sauce drizzled around, and some buttered spinach, if you like.


Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce
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Autumn Cobb Salad

Autumn Cobb Salad

Autumn Cobb Salad

Roasted squash, crunchy apples and dried cherries add seasonal freshness to this autumnal cobb salad, dressed in a spiced apple cider vinaigrette and topped with candied walnuts.

It’s that time of year where I’m either straddling the urge to pull out my chunky sweaters and hunker down with ooey gooey comfort food, or dig in my heels and cling to the straggling bounty of summer and all the freshness it holds.

Your comments, clicks and likes overwhelmingly say you’re in the same camp I am. Long live the salad! So at your request, I present a fall-inspired leafy beauty that will con any non-salad eater into giving the greens a go with the tease of chicken, bacon and eggs and more.

 

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This started out as a simple salad. And then as things tend to go in my world, it quickly escalated to a full blow affair.

Butternut squash? Sure! But let’s add acorn squash too just to be sure.

Crisp apples sliced so thin you can eat 4 or 9 at a time? You bet. But lets add even more bite with crunchy nips of celery ribs. I’ve been consumed with celery lately. I never expected that!

Romaine lettuce as our bed? Sounds good, but let’s pile onto the plushness with arugula and radicchio, too.

Bacon? Eggs? Avocado, chicken and cheese? Of course they’re all there because they’re Cobb classic.

But just for fun let’s toss in some sweetness with dried cherries and candied walnuts. I mean, who doesn’t like a little dessert with their salad?

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About the Recipe

Don’t be afeared of the length of this grocery list. This salad is a true mix and match, making best of what’s in the fridge to pull from the depths of the crisper and moving along accordingly.

Got corn? Zucchini? Pears or peaches? Any of these flavor makers would pair swimmingly with what we have going on here.

I made up for the sheer number of flavors by drizzling this salad with a simple 3-ingredient dressing that just happens to echo my favorite flavor of fall. Spiced apple cider!

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There’s a bit of roasting to do and of course there’s chopping. But really this salad comes together fast.

The most sensitive part of this recipe is when preparing the candied walnuts, and so long as you don’t leave the room to go change the laundry and then get side tracked when you quickly look up to see if Mercury is in retrograde because all of your electronics are going full-on spastic and stroking out, you should be in good shape.

Not that I’d know anything about that. (Sadly, my iMac’s hard drive and I do. Always back up your files people!)

This salad is a meal preppers dream.

Nearly all of the ingredients for this salad can be prepared at once and assembled as your week progresses. Roast your squash and chop your cheese and celery. Hard boiled eggs can be cooked, cooled and peeled. Cook and dice your chicken, fry the bacon and candy that nut. Then simply bag individual portions and toss together with your already chopped and portioned salad greens when ready to eat. The only last minute additions will be slicing your apple and avo.

I originally made this for lunch, and then we had it for dinner too. It’s the salad that just keeps on giving. And man, how I like that.

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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram or Twitter and Facebook with #savvynana.

 
Autumn Cobb Salad
Roasted squash, crunchy apples and dried cherries add seasonal freshness to traditional Cobb salad ingredients dressed in a spiced apple cider vinaigrette and topped with candied walnuts.
 
 
 
    • 1/2 acorn squash seeded and peeled then cut into 3/4-inch pieces
    • 1/2 small butternut squash seeded and peeled then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
    • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1 cup walnut halves
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/3 cup spiced apple cider
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 6 cups mixed salad greens such as romaine, radicchio and arugula
    • 4 sliced cooked bacon chopped
    • 3 hard boiled eggs sliced
    • 1 baked chicken breast chopped
    • 1 stalk celery chopped
    • 1 avocado peeled and pitted then thinly sliced
    • 1 apple such as Gala or honey crisp cored and thinly sliced
    • 3/4 cup white cheddar cheese chopped
    • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the acorn squash on one side of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and the butternut squash on the other side of the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or vegetable oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together 1 1/2 tablespoons water and the brown sugar in a non-stick pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture slightly thickens then add the walnuts and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the sauce reduces and the nuts become fragrant. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with kosher salt. Separate the nuts with a fork and cool.
  4. In a small jar, combine the vegetable oil, spiced apple cider, Dijon mustard and season with kosher salt and pepper. Shake the jar until well combined and emulsified. Taste for seasoning and add more apple cider to taste.
  5. In a large bowl, add the salad greens. Top with rows of bacon, hard boiled egg, chicken, celery, avocado, apple, cheddar cheese, dried cherries and candied walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.

 

Autumn Cobb Salad | foodiecrush.com #recipes #dressing #apples #easy #healthy #butternutsquash #chicken #harvest

Thanks for stopping by, and you know what they say, “Get in the kitchen and cook something good!”