Monday, November 10, 2008

Hosting a Halloween Party is Fun...

... and admittedly quite tiring.

This year, I hosted my first ever Halloween party. A Halloween party where everyone comes dressed up and ready to party away isn't French by essence, so the American half of me was really the one hosting it.

Long before I started getting everything ready for the evening, I was already dreaming about intricately-decorated cupcakes, sugar cookies shaped like tombstones lying on a bed of Mont Blanc-ish "worms", and all the other great snack-type desserts that appear in Halloween cooking articles. However, I guess that people do that as a job, or have a few full days ahead of them to make it all perfect. I, on the other hand, couldn't really use my Halloween party as a way to get out of work for two days, so all my work was done starting 7pm on the 30th.

I settled on pretty simple things to start with: salty olive pound cake (green olives look like eyes...right?) and a pesto pasta salad. The sweet part was more exciting, though. Cupcakes and sugar cookies were on the list, with special Halloween sprinkles as toppings. 

Spot the missing cupcake!

Power-cooking is fun, but when you start at 7pm, it gets pretty old fast. In about 5 hours total, I ended up making two olive pound cakes, one pasta salad, 30 sugar cookies, and 36 cupcakes. It probably doesn't sound like much to those who bake for parties pretty often, but for first-timers such as myself it can get confusing. The 36 cupcakes were meant to cater to all of my friends' tastes, and I think they did: 12 vanilla / vanilla, 12 vanilla / chocolate, and 12 chocolate / chocolate.

Once everything was baked and set up, I must say I was happy about it all. My pre-Halloween baking marathon may have been a challenge, but it was just preparation...for next year's Halloween!


"Cake aux Olives"

4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
250g flour
125g grated swiss cheese
250g green olives, pitted
10g baking powder
salt & pepper

(sorry about the Metric)

Beat together eggs, oil, wine, salt, and pepper until foamy.
Add flour, baking powder, cheese, and olives.

Bake at 350° for an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sour cream vanilla cupcakes: I substituted the cocoa in the above recipe for sugar, and they turned out great.

Vanilla Frosting

NB: I'm really lost. This is my 10th try at vanilla frosting, or something. And it may be French butter, or French confectioner's sugar, or both, but I NEVER get it right. I follow all the directions, have tried making it with a handheld mixer and by hand, but it gets too runny every single time...

(makes 1 cup)

4 tbsp butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

Sugar Cookies

(makes 10 seriously huge cookies)

1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg

Mix sugar and butter, then add egg and flour mixture. Bake 15 minutes at 350°.

These sugar cookies are really addictive and very very chewy. I'm just warning you.