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TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Cakes With Nordicware

Add even more fun to Halloween festivities for family and friends…for party hosts…for your workplace:

Make a Halloween cake with a NordicWare cake mold. It requires no more time and talent than pouring a cake mix batter into the mold.

The molds are artfully embossed, creating “cake sculptures” that need no added decoration. Of course, you can add your own touches with icing, edible glitter, spider candies, etc.

Beyond Halloween, the skull molds also work for El Dia De Los Muertos. In photo #4, one home baker created a classic decorated skull design.

NordicWare’s Halloween cake pans include:

  • Ghost centerpiece (photo #3)
  • Haunted manor centerpiece (photo #2)
  • Skull cakelets and centerpiece (can be decorated for Dia De Los Muertos—photo #4)
  • Tombstone cakelets (photo #1)
  •  
    The pans have a nonstick finish that guarantees easy release, and a lifetime guarantee.

    There are also cookie stamps: a set that includes a black cat, pumpkin and spider.

    They’re available at many retailers including Williams-Sonoma, plus online at Amazon and NordicWare.com.

    You can use any cake recipe you like. Particularly seasonal:

  • Applesauce cake
  • Dark chocolate (for the black spooky effect—add some black food color)
  • Pumpkin Cake
  • Red velvet cake (for the “bloody” effect)
  • Spice cake
  • White cake for ghosts and skulls
  •  
    But sure, go for the brownie batter, the chocolate ghost with white icing, or other family favorite.
     
    ADD A SAUCE

    You can add a sauce for a more elaborate dessert:

  • Bourbon or rum sauce
  • Caramel sauce with scotch
  • Crème anglaise
  • Hard sauce
  • Sabayon, the French version of zabaglione sauce
  •  
    The best approach is to put the sauce on the plate first, then set the cake on top of it. You won’t cover up the design elements.

    Have fun with it!
     
     
    MORE USES FOR THE CAKE PANS

    Use the cake pans to mold other foods:

  • Custard
  • Dips and spreads
  • Gelatin
  • Ice cream
  • Pudding
  •  

    Tombstone Cake Nordicware Halloween
    [1] Tombstone cakelets, individual portions (photo courtesy NordicWare).

    Haunted House Cake - Nordicware
    [2] Haunted mamor centerpiece (photo courtesy NordicWare).

    Ghost Cake Nordicware
    [3] A ghost centerpiece (photo courtesy Nordicware).

    Skull Cakes Nordicware

    [4] Skull cakelets, decorated for El Dia De Los Muertos (photo by Nozomi | Williams-Sonoma upload.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Individual Squash Bowls For Soup, Grains & More

    This make-ahead beauty (photo #1) is a stunning first course or, turns into a dinner with a light saladr. You can make it vegetarian or add meat: chicken, ham, turkey or sausage.

    This squash soup is packed with shiitake mushrooms, sausage and red chard, and topped with a fresh sage chiffonade. There are no right or wrong ingredients: Use whatever sounds good to you.

    The soup bowl in photo #1 is from Olmsted restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. The photo, along with the availability of so much squash in the markets—had us spending a week trying different recipes that used small squash as individual edible bowls.

    The result: delicious baked squash filled with other delicious things, from breakfast eggs to baked fruit sides.
     
     
    WHAT SQUASH SHOULD YOU USE?

    While stuffed squash has served as edible bowls for millennia, our concept was to expand the squash bowl for soup (broccoli soup, butternut squash soup, mushroom soup, etc.) to other uses.

    Small acorn squash squash (photo #1) are the most available; but you may be able to find eight-ball zucchini (photo #2), carnival squash (photo #6) or golden nugget pumpkins (photo #5). A farmers market is your best bet.
     
     
    WHAT SHOULD YOU PUT IN YOUR BOWL?

    Use whatever filling you want.

    Soup is most popular: not just butternut squash soup, but mushroom and any but that’s because most people haven’t thought further. Here are 20 options, including two for breakfast.

    You can serve the squash bowl as a side, or add as a main with a protein (chicken or turkey, sausage, tofu).

  • Baked fruit: apples, cranberries pears, quince, with walnuts and/or raisins
  • Beans or lentils with corn, onions, roasted tomatoes
  • Breakfast hash and a poached egg
  • Buffalo chicken
  • Cheese: a bubbling bowl of fondue
  • Cruciferous bowl: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga, turnips
  • Grain salad or hot grains: barley, bulgur, kasha (buckwheat), quinoa, rice, wild rice
  • Greens bowl: broccoli rabe, collards, kale, mustard greens
  • Gratins (anything topped with cheese)
  • Kale, sausage and mushrooms
  • Mushrooms, sausage and quinoa
  • Mac and cheese
  • Pumpkin ravioli topped with fried sage
  • Rice and beans
  • Roast vegetables
  • Sausage, zucchini, rice
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Stuffing
  • Tex-Mex fillings (chicken enchilada, taco, rice and beans
  • Turkey, stuffing and gravy (leftovers!)
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Fresh herbs, especially sage and thyme
  • Nuts, or nuts and raisins or other dried fruit
  • Seeds: chia, flax, pepitas (pumpkin)
  •  
    PREPARATION

    1. MAKE the soup or other filling ahead of time, and warm it when the squash bowls are ready.

    2. BAKE the squash: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Halve the squash widthwise and scoop out the seeds and any loose fibers. Discard the fibers and reserve the seeds for garnish, if desired.

    3. SLICE a small piece from the bottom halves of the squash, so the “bowls” will sit evenly. You can bake the top halves and serve them as well; or cut the flesh into chunks to use as a filling ingredient or for other purposes.

    4. BRUSH the cut surface of the squash with olive oil and season lightly with salt, pepper and thyme. Place face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and tender, 20-30 minutes, until you can pierce the rind with a fork or tip of a knife.

    5. REMOVE any additional center of the squash, until the bowl opening is large enough for your purposes (save the cooked squash for another purpose). Add your filling(s) and serve.

    You can also bake the squash in advance and microwave it when ready to serve.

     

    Squash Bowl With Soup
    [1] A squash bowl with soup and lots of extras, at Olmsted | NYC.

    Soup In Eight Ball Zucchini
    [2] An eight ball zucchini makes an ideal single-portion bowl, at Bittersweet Blog.

    Sausage & Lentils In Squash Bowl
    [3] Curried lentils with onion and carrot at Fried Dandelions.

    Sausage & Apple In A Squash Bowl
    [4] Sausage- and apple-stuffed acorn squash at Cherished Bliss.

    Stuffed Golden Nugget Pumpkin
    [5] A golden nugget pumpkin stuffed with couscous, bacon and sausage, from Good Food | Australia.

    Carnival Squash

    [6] Check farmers markets for squash that work as individual bowls. This is a carnival squash: butternut’s flashier brother (photo courtesy Kitchen Tangents).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry-Orange Mold

    Cranberry Orange Mold
    [1] Cranberry-orange mold; the recipe is below (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

    Cranberry Sauce
    [2] Optional presentation in a glass bowl (photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd).

    Cranberry Orange Sauce In Turkey Shape
    [3] Mold the sauce in a turkey pan from Nordicware.

     

    We love cranberry-orange relishes, compotes, molds and sauces. A few years ago we asked: Why do we only make them twice a year, for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

    This side is too tasty to save for one or two holiday dinners. So we started to make them as soon as the fresh cranberries arrive in stores (frozen cranberries also work).

    Enjoy homemade cranberry sauce as often as you like, at any meal of the day: We serve it:

  • With grilled meats and fish.
  • With burgers and sandwiches.
  • With yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • As a dessert with sorbet.
  • With a red-themed Valentine’s dinner.
  •  
    Here’s a recipe from Taste Of Home, submitted by Carol Mead of Los Alamos, New Mexico.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-ORANGE MOLD

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 package (3 ounces) raspberry gelatin
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, divided
  • 2 medium apples, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium navel orange, peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • Optional center garnish: celery curls (or a mix of celery and carrot curls), shredded lettuce
  • Optional side garnish: sour cream, plain or slightly sweetened with an optional dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE the unflavored gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water; let stand 1 minute. Add boiling water and raspberry gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining cold water. Refrigerate until thickened, about 45 minutes.

    2. PULSE 2-1/3 cups cranberries, the apples and orange in a food processor until chopped. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in the sugar. Stir the fruit mixture into the thickened gelatin. Fold in the walnuts, celery and the remaining whole cranberries.

     

    3. COAT a 10-in. fluted tube pan, an 8-cup ring mold or two 4-cup molds with cooking spray (you can use a bundt pan in a pinch). Pour in the gelatin mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until firm.

    4. UNMOLD onto a platter and fill the center with celery curls. Serve the sour cream in a side dish or ramekins.

    NOTE: Some people call this type of recipe a salad, or a gelatin salad, because it’s filled with raw fruits and vegetables. If you fill the center with raw vegetables—shredded lettuce, carrot curls, celery curls—it makes the recipe a legitimate salad.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Party Wines

    For a Halloween party idea—or to augment the gathering you’ve already planned—look for holiday-themed bottles of wine. There are dozens of choices available nationwide—typically the winery’s existing wines with special labels.

    The Church Of Halloween presents 51 different wines with Halloween-theme labels. Some examples:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Bat’s Blood, Chateau du Vampire, Freakshow
  • Chardonnay: Bewitched, Ghostly White, Spellbound
  • Grüner Veltliner: Skeleton
  • Malbec: Skeleton, Voodoo Moon
  • Merlot: Bat’s Blood, Black Widow, Dracula
  • Mourvedre: Voodoo Moon
  • Pinot Grigio: Serenya
  • Pinot Noir: The Heretic
  • Riesling: Superstition
  • Rosé: Blackbird, China Doll (no arms or legs), Gothic
  • Shiraz: Kill Bin Bin, Strait Jacket, The Tentacle
  • Syrah/Petite Syrah: Phantom, Sixth Sense, The Tentacle
  • Zinfandel: Boneshaker, Phantom Poizin, 7 Deadly Zins
  •  
    The labels have great graphics. Even if you don’t buy the wines, take a look.

    Elsewhere, we found Evil Demon Bloody Shiraz, Haunting Ghost, Old Witch Cursed Merlot and Slayer Blood Red.

    No doubt there are others, available in a store near you.
     
     
    BONUS TIP

    Save the bottles and refill them next Halloween, without the trouble of tracking them down.

     

    Bone Dry Cabernet Halloween Wine

    Halloween Chardonnay

    Spooky bottle of red, spooky bottle of white (photo courtesy Elk Creek Vineyards).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Pumpkin Cheese Danish & The History Of Viennoiserie

    Cherry Danish - Viennoiserie
    [1] One of the most popular types of Viennoiserie is Danish pastry, typically round with fruit and/or cheese fillings (photo courtesy Visit Denmark).

    Kouign Amann Viennoiserie
    [2] Kouign amann may look like Danish’s country cousin, but the flavor is as royal as it can be (Here’s the recipe from The Kitchn).

    Croissants & Coffee
    [3] Perhaps the most oft-consumed Viennoiserie choice: the croissant (photo courtesy The French Farm).

    Pain au Chocolat
    [4] Pain au chocolat, often called a chocolate croissant in the U.S. It’s croissant dough with chocolate rolled into the dough, which is shaped in a rectangle instead of a crescent. Here’s the recipe from The Bojon Gourmet.

    Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish

    [5] Today’s recipe: a pumpkin cheese Danish, the breakfast version of pumpkin cheesecake (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     

    Long before we could say “Viennoiserie” (vee-en-WAH-zuh-ree, meaning “things of Vienna”), we could say “cheese Danish.” We cannot remember a time that cheese Danish was not part of our life.

    Our nana was a big baker of Viennoiserie; and if she didn’t have time, there were bakeries owned by Austrian and German bakers who had immigrated to New York after World War II.
     
     
    WHAT IS VIENNOISERIE?

    Viennoiserie is the category of what is called breakfast pastry in the U.S. It is made with laminated yeast dough or puff pastry. It includes, among other varieties, croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisins and Danish pastry.

    It bridges the gap between bread and pastry.

    White flour is combined with ingredients—eggs, butter, sugar, milk, cream—which create a richer, sweeter flavor than brioche, challah or other sweet breads. Active yeast cultures cause the quick rise of the dough, creating the signature flakiness when it is baked.

    While the laminated dough is known as a pâte viennoise (pot vee-yen-NWAZ, meaning Viennese paste) and originated in Vienna, it grew up in Paris,

    Viennoiserie arrived in Paris between 1838 and 1839 with August Zang, a former Austrian military officer who opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise. He introduced the Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant.

    The Viennese style of pastry became a passion in Paris, baked almost everywhere.

    You can explore more pastries in our Pie & Pastry Glossary, and the many varieties of bread in our Bread Glossary.
     
     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CHEESE DANISH (PHOTO #5)

    This recipe is from the masterful bakers at King Arthur Flour. It may seem like a lot of steps, but this Danish is something you just can’t find elsewhere.

    Prep time is 60 minutes, bake time is 18-20 minutes.

    The dough needs to be made the night before (through step 3, below), so you can pull it together on a lazy Saturday and have warm Danish for Sunday brunch.

    Ingredients For 12 Danish

    For The Sponge

  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  •  
    For The Dough

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 to 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  •  
    For Day 2

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) cold unsalted butter for laminating
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel or 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cream cheese flavor
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 2 ounces caramel (a scant 1/4 cup, packed, or about 6 individual candies)
  •  
     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the sponge: Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. Beat together the egg and water then add the sugar, flour, and yeast. Mix until well blended. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

    2. MAKE the dough: Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. When the sponge is ready, combine the sugar, 1-1/4 cups of the flour, dry milk, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

    3. STIR the sweet dough flavor and 1 tablespoon melted butter into the sponge mixture, then add the dry ingredients. Mix and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms, adding the additional 1/4 cup of flour if necessary. Pat the dough into a square on a greased baking sheet, wrap it well, and refrigerate overnight.

    4. PREPARE the butter the next day. Place the butter in the center of a lightly floured piece of plastic wrap. If you’re using two sticks of butter, place them side by side. Pound the butter with a rolling pin until you have a rough 6″ square. Use the plastic wrap to make the edges straight and even. Wrap the butter and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

     

    5. LAMINATE the dough: Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 9″ square; it doesn’t have to be exact. Unwrap the chilled square of butter and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square. Fold the sides of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.

    6. DUST the top of the dough parcel with a little flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking underneath, dusting with more flour if necessary, then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 14″ long by 7″ wide. Brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like a business letter). Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they’re directly on top of each other. Use a dab of water, if necessary, to get the corners to stick together. This is the first “turn.”

    7. ROTATE the dough parcel 90° to the right: It will look like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cool and relaxed, roll and turn it as instructed in the previous step, then wrap it loosely and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If the dough is springing back when you try to roll it, wrap it loosely and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Ultimately the dough should be folded and turned four times, so allow it to rest in the refrigerator as many times as necessary to achieve that. Once the four turns have been completed, wrap the dough loosely and refrigerate it for 60 to 90 minutes.

    8. MAKE the filling: In a small bowl combine the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, ClearJel or flour, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl…

    9. BEAT the cream cheese until smooth. Add the pumpkin and flavor, and beat again until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients. Set aside.

    10. SHAPE the Danish: Roll the dough into a 14″ x 16″ rectangle; if the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest and relax, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Trim the edges of the dough on every side using a ruler and pizza wheel. This cuts off the folded edges that would inhibit the pastry from rising fully.

    11. SPREAD the filling over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2″ bare strip along one of the long edges. Brush the bare strip with a little water. Beginning with the covered long edge, roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into 12 slices and place them on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
    Cover the Danish and let them rest/rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°.

    12. BRUSH the Danish with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water. Bake the Danish—one pan at a time, or in two ovens—for 18 to 20 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. Remove the Danish from the oven and cool on a rack.

    13. PREPARE the topping: Melt the caramel over low heat in a small saucepan or in the microwave, heating and stirring until smooth. Drizzle some of the warm caramel over each Danish.

    You can store Danish in a plastic bag or an airtight container at room temperature for a day; or wrap well and freeze for longer storage.
     
     
    Making Viennoiserie is a labor of love; but the results are so delicious, you almost forget the labor.

    And, the more you make it, the faster you get.

     

    Danish Pastry
    [1] Danish pastry gives bakers an opportunity to create different variations on a [round] theme (photo courtesy Fika NYC).

    Danish Pastry
    [2] This well shape is popular for Danish with jam and cream cheese (photo Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime).

    Cheese Danish

    [3] Another classic shape for cream cheese danish. Here’s the recipe from Alexandra Cooks.

     

      

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