Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Balls Part 2 of 2


My Halloween treat to you is the "conclusion" of my cake balls post.  I hope you have a lot of fun tonight with your kids, or your friends, or your family, or your frat brothers -- whatever it is you are doing!  I can't wait to dress up my baby and help hand out some yummy treats.  We'll probably take a little stroll around the neighborhood, but not go door-to-door.  She's only 13 months old, after all!

If you haven't seen it, visit Cake Balls Part 1 first.

Now it's time to decorate the cake balls.

Supplies:  When you have made 50 cake balls, you need at least 2 bags of candy melts.  I chose vanilla-flavored orange and dark chocolate.  I wanted to make half jack-o-lantersn and the other half chocolate with fall-colored sprinkles.  To make jack-o-lanterns, I also needed an AmeriColor Food Writer and some green apple Tic Tacs.  I ordered the marker from Amazon here.


Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Take some of your frozen balls out of the freezer.  If you leave them out, they'll thaw out and not be so easy to work with.

Melt half your bag of candy melts.  I put mine in the microwave for one minute, stirred, and another 20 seconds.  Another great way is to use a double boiler.
In the past, I made cake balls chilled, but not frozen.  But this time I did frozen and it made it go by so fast!  I can't believe I've been messing with not-frozen in the past.  Lesson learned!  Do it frozen!

If you are using Tic Tacs to make pumpkins, put the cake ball on a cookie sheet and insert the Tic Tac.  Hold for a second or two until it sets.
Pumpkins all in a row!
If you are using a cake writer and making pumpkin faces, this can be tricky!  Make sure you draw the face AFTER the chocolate sets, and before condensation starts to form.  Once the candy gets wet, it's nearly impossible for the marker to work.
If you are using sprinkles.... the cake ball on your sheet, then sprinkle before the chocolate sets.
My other cake balls!  And what it looks like when bitten into.
After all the chocolate has hardened, I put them in a bin or sealable bag and put them in the fridge (not the freezer).  We really like the way they taste REALLY cold.  Of course, this makes the marker not dry, so be careful if you made faces.  If you didn't make faces, there is nothing to worry about! :)
Believe it or not, these only took about 40 mintues to decorate.  I've had other times where it took MUCH longer.  But that was because I was melting the candy little bits at a time (ugh), using cake that was not frozen, so it would crumble on me and I had to be delicate.  With them being frozen, it took a lot less time.

Notes about Cake Balls/Pops.  The lovely thing about cake balls is you can mix and match.  Our favorite is homemade "Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate" cake mixed with Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting and coated in dark chocolate.  So good!  Red velvet cake covered in chocolate is also so very good!

I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I did preparing it.  And again,

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Balls Part 1 of 2

Yes, I am making a two-part cake balls post!  Have you heard of cake balls yet?  They are a truffle-cake-candy hybrid (confused?).  I discovered them recently on because they kept winning the daily photo contests (LINK!).  Then a few months later, I stumbled upon  Her website is filled with fun pictures of her treats.  She pretty much made cake balls and cake pops famous, and has a fabulous book -- all because of her blog!  When I saw her Halloween Cake Pops post, I knew that I had to try them soon! 
I started making a couple different kinds of cake balls and cake pops, including some for Rachel's birthday party.  I've made the cake from scratch, I've made the cake part from boxed mixes.  Both result in delicious, moist cake with a crunchy candy coating on the outside.   When I started this blog, I decided that I would definitely make the Halloween cake balls I had been reading about for months now.  It helped that I saw this on newsstands for inspiration:
Here is how you make cake balls in a nutshell:
  • Bake a cake (9" x 13")
  • Crumble a cake
  • Add frosting, mush together
  • Roll into balls
  • Dip the balls into hot melted candy chocolate and let harden
Since it is a lot of steps over a few days, I decided to go with an EASY, not-from-scratch recipe.  If I wanted to make this from scratch, I'd use the recipe in my Favorite Pumpkin Bread post.  I decided on this Duncan Hines recipe: .

Here we go!

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix everything together and bake for 30 minutes.  Allow it to cool fully on a wire rack.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
Beat with wire whisk, hand mixer or stand mixer.
Bake and cool.
STEP TWO: Cut off any hard edges and dispose how you see fit.  Crumble the cake.  If you really want to, make it even more fine by running through a food processor.

STEP THREE: Add almost an entire tub of cream cheese frosting to your crumbles and mush together.  I've done this two ways: by hand and with my mixer.  Both work well, but the mixer is easier and cleaner.

It doesn't look very appetizing at this point, I know!
STEP FOUR: Roll into balls onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.  Then cover with plastic wrap and tin foil and pop into the freezer until you are ready to decorate.  Note: Wash your hands frequently so that rolling goes smoothly.  Cake will accumulate on your palms.
Yield: About 50 bite-sized balls.

My thoughts on the cake recipe: It is good and REALLY easy, but it doesn't have a lot of pumpkin flavor...  It mostly tasted like spice cake.  When I make these again, I would like to try a different recipe or make easy pumpkin bread from scratch and crumble that up.  I think that would work well.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 - The fun part: decorating!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses

I love it when candy makers put out special flavors to complement the season.  Hershey is especially good at doing this when it comes to their Hershey Kisses.  From peppermint to candy corn flavors, none of them disapoint --- not to me, anyway!

I was gifted some Pumpkin Spice Kisses for the blog (thanks, Sarah!).  I couldn't wait to try them!
The packaging is so pretty with its fall colors of orange and brown.  These are very hard to find, and I have looked around at every store (out of curiosity) and haven't seen them anywhere. 
When you open your kiss, you discover that even the little flag is different - it has PUMPKIN SPICE printed in white on a warm brown.  The kiss itself is a pumpkin orange with a cream-colored center. 
Let me tell you - these kisses are yummy!  They taste just like fall spices and are very sweet and creamy.  There is no hint of chocolate, so, if you get a hold of these, don't expect them to taste anything like your usual kisses.  I only wish that Hershey would make them more readily available!  I didn't even know such a thing existed until a few weeks ago.  Thanks again to Sarah! :)

Here is a pretty promotional picture of what the inside is like:

Pick up a bag if you can find them.


Amazon: (Currently in stock as of 10/27/11)  $8.99 for one bag. Wow.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

"Dear Great Pumpkin, I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween night. I hope you will bring me lots of presents. "

Do you know what is airing tomorrow (October 27, 2011) at 8 PM on ABC?

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! 

All of the Peanuts specials made by Charles Schulz are brilliant, but this one is by far my favorite.  There are so many great lines and so much injustice going on!  It's just so enjoyable.

It was made in 1966 by the award-winning team of Charles Schulz (creator, writer), Lee Mendelson (executive producer), Bill Melendez (director, producer) and Vince Guaraldi (music composer/director).
Of course, it starts with the kids being VERY excited about Halloween.  But Linus, ever the odd one out, is writing his letter to the Great Pumpkin.  You know what I don't understand about Linus?  He is so wise and smart, yet he believes in traditions that only HE knows about.  Where does he get such ideas?

On Halloween night, Charlie Brown, of course, goofs up his costume and is the ghost with a thousand eyes.  The back of his big, round head becomes a jack-o-lantern model and after every house, he gets .. a ROCK!  Who gives out rocks, anyway?  Even adults are jerks toward Charlie Brown.
"I got a rock."

How FUN does their party look, I might add?  Violet sure can throw a good party.

And let's not forget the main plotline: LINUS!  After the party and before trick-or-treating, his big sister TRIES to change his mind and get him to come trick-or-treating.
His crush, Sally, is not convinced at first.  But, of course she stays because she is a fool in love.  So they wait.  And wait.  Surely, the pumpkin patch is sincere enough to warrant a visit from the Great Pumpkin, right?

Meanwhile, Snoopy is the Red Baron, World War I flying ace.

He crash lands and visits the party, where of course he takes a moment to torture his frienemy, Lucy:
 "Baugh! My lips touched dog lips! Baugh! Agh! Poisoned dog lips! Baugh! Agh!"
But his best part is yet to come.  His plot merges with Linus' plot as he heads over to the pumpkin patch.  Excited, Linus can hear Snoopy poking around and thinks it is the Great Pumpkin FINALLY making his appearence.  With a silly and funny "wooooo" noise, Snoopy rises in the patch. By the way, how DOES he do that?  I have always wondered!
Linus: So smart, yet so dumb ...
They realize it is Snoopy and of COURSE Sally is piiissssed and thoroughly reams him out for making him miss everything.
 "I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could have been out for tricks or treats. Halloween is over, and I missed it! You blockhead. You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle."

Soon, Sally goes home with his big brother, Charlie Brown. In a bittersweet end, Linus' sister, Lucy, guides him home and tucks him into bed.  For all her mean ways, she is not the type to let her brother wake up alone in a pumpkin patch.  I always liked that.  Then, Charlie Brown and Linus discuss their Halloween, and Linus still insists that the Great Pumpkin DOES exist!  That's faith!

It's all good though, because he is redeemed on Easter when he promises an Easter Beagle and Snoopy comes through for him.  I like to think that Snoopy does this to make up for humiliating Linus on Halloween.

Linus: There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.

Lucy as a Witch: A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality.

Lucy: Charlie Brown, if you got an invitation, it was a mistake. There were two lists, Charlie Brown: one to invite, and one not to invite. You must have been put on the wrong list.

Sally to Linus:  If you try to hold my hand, I'll slug you!

Charlie Brown: You must be crazy. When are you going to stop believing in something that isn't true?
Linus: When you stop believing in that fellow with a red suit and the white beard who goes, "Ho, ho, ho!"
Charlie Brown: We're obviously separated by denominational differences.

Lucy to Sally: All you have to do is walk up to a house, ring the doorbell and say "Tricks or treats."
Sally: Are you sure it's legal?
Lucy: Of course it's legal.
Sally:  I wouldn't want to be accused of taking part in a rumble.


Again, if you don't own it, catch it tomorrow at 8 PM on ABC.  They will also be airing "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown!"  I own it, and would watch it on TV anyway.  BUT I am anxious to see the annual Halloween episode of "Community" on NBC, so that is where I will be tuning in!


P.S. Interesting article about this special and Charles Schulz's beliefs:

P.P.S.  By the way, super-fans of this special: this month's GOT MILK? ad features the gang on Halloween night.  It excludes Linus, who is probably at the pumpkin patch again this year.  I found mine in "Parenting: The Early Years" magazine and it is hanging at my desk. I love it!

If you can't find the ad anywhere, download it here

Halloween Around the Neighborhood

Ever since the rain passed, I have been trying to get outside with my daughter as much as possible.  Soon winter will be setting in and we won't want to go on our walks anymore.  Then it will be impossible with ice, snow, etc.  Ugh, I don't even want to think about it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the neighborhood we walk in was getting more and more decorated for the season.  I decided, in a break from my usual food posts, that I would like to share with you my favorite autumn scenes from our daily walks. 

One day, I finally remembered my camera.  I was nervous the entire time that someone, especially a grumpy old person, might come out of their house and say, "why are you taking pictures of my house?!"  Thankfully, that didn't happen!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these scenes as much as we do!

Baby all ready for her walk.
A cute start to our walk.  Frankenstein and candy corn!
It's spooky the way it is catching the wind ...
This guy especially freaks me out, so here is a close-up for a better look!
The thing on the door especially scares me.
Sooo creepy!
These guys are my favorite! :)
And we saw some deer at the end of our walk in the clearing next to our home.  They always just stare at me suspiciously.
Starting last week, this mannequin appeared at the end of a driveway on the way home from work.  They vary her everyday.  At first I thought she was REAL!
(Yes, there were no cars behind me).
Here she is close up:
Weird, huh? I thought so!  She sort of looks like Uma Thurman's character in Pulp Fiction. 

Happy Haunts!  Halloween is just days away!  I hope you're ready.