In our house, Halloween was the ultimate candy-nirvana for kids on teeny-tiny allowances. It meant that as long as we didn’t get lost, made it home before curfew and a police officer didn’t escort us to the door, candy collection was one giant blurry beat-the-clock marathon – trick or treating on high test.
The sibling who collected the most worthy loot was elevated to the boss-of-us for a good long time, or at least until the stash ran dry. We collected more candy on Halloween than we could buy in three lifetimes of allowance day. Who needs Christmas (or Hanukkah) when we had Halloween? Those big old chocolate bars and bags of M&Ms were a holiday all by themselves.
And then I grew up and had to hand Halloween over to the next generation.
For a happy look at how that all worked out go here.
For a bunch of years after our own children left to wander about their own universes and before the little dogs arrived in our life, we lived in places that had nary a trick or treater. Between gated condos and the evil that lurks in many communities, most parents did not let kids trick or treat.
But something changed in the last few years. We moved to a neighborhood full of small children where it was quite safe to be out and about at night. Think Pleasantville filled with Geeks attached to iPhone ear gadgets.
When we were growing up no one tripped over toddlers or babies in strollers out trick or treating. These days no one thinks it is odd that small children, barely able to lurch about on their own, are dressed in elaborate costumes, ringing the doorbell of and accepting candy from virtual strangers.
All for the sanctity of Halloween.
It isn’t a surprise that most of these tiny trick or treaters come up to the door with a look of pure terror etched into their little faces. Some of them won’t take the candy at all. Parents have to intervene and shove it into the candy carrier which is usually a plastic pumpkin bigger than the entire kid.
The lesson? Ditch those ridiculous plastic pumpkins. Everyone knows that serious trick or treaters, even in training, use pillowcases which can hold a lot more loot!
Speaking of Halloween treats – here are some really easy cupcakes to delight anyone and they are totally gluten-free, of course. This comes to you as part of our Out-of-a -Box Collection of recipes. You could buy the ingredients on the way home from work, bake these up and still have time to watch television or read War & Peace.
Have a great and bountiful Halloween. And don’t try to eat these spiders. Please.
|Extra Spooky Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes, Gluten Free||
- One box Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake Mix, Gluten Free
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 whole large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 oz. milk
- 1 can Betty Crocker Fluffy White Frosting
- 1 tube Betty Crocker Black Writing Icing
- 1 tube Betty Crocker Orange Writing Icing
- 1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips, melted (optional)
- Edible (or non edible) spiders
- Sprinkles (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350. Place festive greaseproof liners in cupcake tin (about 16 or so). You can also use a mix of mini and regular cupcake tins. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add together the cake mix, the cocoa, espresso and whisk well. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Using a whisk or a hand-held mixer, beat the mixture together for 2-4 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape up any stuff from the bottom of the bowl. The mixture should be smooth and be kind of thick.
- Using an ice cream scoop, place one scoop in each cupcake liner. Rap pan on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake about 15 minutes and rotate. They should be almost finished at that point. Bake only until a tooth pick comes out without crumbs – about 3-5 minutes more. Cool on a rack as soon as you can pop them out of the pan.
- For the white frosting with spider webs: Stir the frosting like crazy to give it a little fluff (think of it as a down pillow smashed into a small bag – you want to fluff it up once it is free). Place a layer of white frosting on the cupcake using an offset spatula or a piping bag. Keep the surface kind of flat. But be generous.
- Knead the writing containers with the lid on. Otherwise only icky liquid comes out. With both writing icing colors or just one, starting in the center and without stopping,create a spiral – center out and three turns will do it – wide spaced. If using two colors on one cupcake, make sure the spirals are lined up next to each other and not touching as much as you can help it. Once all the spirals are piped, take a toothpick or two (or several) and from the center out without lifting the toothpick and with a gentle touch to avoid digging into the white frosting, drag the toothpick from the center out to create a web. Do the opposite side. Then do it again and then opposite that spot – keep going until you’ve created a web for the spider. Neat is not important because spider webs are rather random.
- Place your plastic or edible spider on the web anywhere you like. If it is a non edible spider – make sure everyone (especially children) know it!
- Optional – add some Halloween colored sprinkles on top of the web.
- Chocolate topped cupcakes: Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the melted chocolate chips and add eyeballs or sprinkles, or other decorations of your choosing.
Decorating Tip: Ahead of time, buy some fine and dandy decorations to make any of your Out-of-a-Box goodies even more special. I like to have cupcake wrappers on hand along with small colored tubes of writing icing (Betty Crocker are GF) for tiny applications. You can find goodies at the grocery or online.