Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Bake-o'ween!

I can't really explain why Halloween is my favorite holiday. Sure, candy is great, but I can't really go trick-or-treating anymore. Dressing up in costumes is also always fun, although I'm continually upstaged by girls dressed as Little-Miss-Butt-Cheeks-Hanging-Out. I guess any of the activities that we love about Halloween could take place at any other time of the year, but there's just something about the late fall conglomeration of all things spooky that makes October 31st something special.

Since I unfortunately don't have any real plans for this year's festivities I decided to go all out on the sweets instead and, with a little help from the Wilton online decorating shop, I made some killer stenciled sugar cookies as well as some ghoulish Fingers of Fate candied pretzel rods. This was my first foray into using both stencils and candy molds and, I have to say, I'm pretty proud of them for a first attempt.

The Wilton online shop really has a wealth of beginner decorating tools and ideas for cakes, cookies and candy for all holidays and celebrations and, browsing the site a couple of months ago, I happened to come across these stencils and had to have them. I was also intrigued by the colorful candy witch finger candy molds but was nervous; I've never made candy before. I also bought black and green candy melts to make the fingers as well as black decorating sugar for the cookies and everything including shipping still cost less than $20. In the end, both were super simple and just required a little bit of patience and a delicate touch. If you are in any way artistic to begin with, these will be a cinch for you.
For the cookies, I bought a packaged sugar cookie mix and used an easy royal icing recipe, this time substituting powdered egg whites for the real thing. Separate your batch of icing into bowls depending on how many colors you plan to use while the cookies are baking, as royal icing dries very quickly and you'll want to have everything prepped. A couple of other notes, as soon as your cookies come out of the oven you may want to flatten them gently with the back of a spatula in order to have the flattest decorating surface possible. Also remember to make your cookies a little larger than usual to accommodate the background icing as well as the size of the stenciled design. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it, but I just used a children's paint brush to lightly wet the inside of the stenciled design before sprinkling a healthy dose of sugar on top. After sprinkling, pat the design lightly with your fingertips, remove the stencil gently with both hands and--Voila!For the candy, using the microwaveable candy melts couldn't have been easier and I still have plenty left over. By using another children's paintbrush, it's easy to paint the interior of the fingernail first with the black candy (do this in thin layers allowing time to dry in between to slowly color in the entire fingernail portion). Once this is set, the green candy is used to fill in the mold. Just add a pretzel rod and refrigerate until set. Boo!