Friday, October 29, 2010

Graveyard Cake


Halloween was never my favorite holiday.  I prefer happy, smiling ghosts and never really enjoyed the goriness that most people seem to love about the holiday.

The costumes and free candy were wonderful - at least until I turned 13 and was thereby deemed to old to go trick-or-treating.  Now I find myself on the other side of the door, the adult handing out candy to children who, on any other day in this city, would be considered pan handlers.

But I do enjoy seeing all the costumes, all the Daddies carrying around little bumble bees who are too young to talk, all the Mommies going crazy for the wallpaper in our entryway, and all the almost-teenagers (I am over the word tween) entrusted to trick-or-treat all by themselves in the building.


Besides costume watching, there are a few other, non-scary, things I enjoy about Halloween each year:  It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and this cake.

I remember my mother clipping the recipe for this treat from a magazine and how my sister and I used to fight over whether to mix gummy worms into the chocolate pudding.

Let's just say that I detested real worms and my sister used to keep them as pets in a tin under her bed.  I am sure you can guess which sides we took in the argument.


Now that I am older and do not have two little goblins to run after, I have the freedom to adapt my mom's recipe as I see fit.  First, no gummy worms.  

Second, I make homemade chocolate pudding instead of Jell-O and I use freshly whipped cream instead of Cool Whip.  The base still receives a thick coating of crushed Oreos and is decorated with tombstones and ghosts.


Happy Halloween to you!  Heed my advice and hide all the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups at the bottom of your candy bowl, far from the reach of little trick-or-treating hands.


Graveyard Cake
makes 4 to 6 servings

For the Chocolate Pudding:
1 cup whole milk, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 1/4 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 large egg yolk
Pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate [Note: I used Guittard 60%]
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream:
12 ounces heavy cream, divided

For the Cookie Crumbs:
8 Oreos, ground in a food processor, divided

For the Decorations:
Milano cookies
Black food pen or black icing
Small candy eyes

Preparation Instructions
Make the Chocolate Pudding: In medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, egg yolk, and salt.  Set aside.

Place chocolate, butter, and vanilla in large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk and 3 tablespoons sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and slowly temper into cocoa powder mixture, whisking constantly.  When the two mixtures are combined, return to saucepan, and place over medium heat.  Whisking constantly, bring mixture up to a boil until thick, about 1 minute.

Pour custard over chocolate in large mixing bowl.  Allow to sit for 30 seconds.  Whisk vigorously until smooth and shiny.  Cover pudding immediately with plastic wrap, placing plastic directly onto the custard.  Allow to chill, at least 1 hour.

Whip the Cream:  Place heavy cream in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Whip on medium speed until stiff peaks just barely form.

Assemble the Cake:  When chocolate pudding is chilled, remove plastic wrap.  Gently fold 1/2 cup whipped cream into pudding.  When fully incorporated, fold in half of the Oreo crumbs.  Pour mixture into loaf pan.  Sprinkle remaining Oreo crumbs on top of the pudding.

Decorate the Cake:  Be creative!  I created tombstones from Milano cookies, which I wrote on with a food pen.  Using the remaining whipped cream, I formed ghosts and used pumpkin seeds as their eyes.  Candy pumpkins and candy corns also make for festive decorations.

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