5 weeks ago
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It's fall, my favorite season. I know that because the calendar tells me so. I know it because I see lots of apples, pumpkins and butternut squash showing up on my favorite food blogs. And because there is a huge haunted house inside Target. Therefore, I choose to ignore the 80 degree weather outside, and do what I've done every fall since I moved to the South, and dress myself and my children for what I wish the weather to be, not for what the weather actually is, and sweat my way through another beautiful Alabama October.
My kids are in the fall spirit, too. The other night, they told me that they wanted to decorate for Halloween. And before I could stop myself, I had a pleasant little daydream about fall decorating. I visualized rooms like this:
With maybe a pretty pumpkin/gourd display like this on the front porch:
I imagined hues of red, gold and orange; natural elements that evoke the essence of autumn; fallen leaves, pumpkins, mums. But it turns out that this vision of fall decorating was not even close to the one that my children had in mind, so instead, we went with the iridescent "HAPPY HALLOWEEN" banner:
When I see homes or garden displays similar to the ones above on HGTV, or in magazines, they will usually describe it as something like "understated elegance." Well, my children vastly prefer a decorating style that would be better described as "overstated excessiveness," which, if I recall correctly, was very popular in the 70s.
So on the mantel, we have this:
Yes, that's a plastic black cat flashlight, and an eyeball that rolls around randomly and blares the theme to "The Adams Family" at a decibel level previously only heard at Metallica concerts.
Friendly ghost and monster hanging out on the rocking chair along with needlepoint pillow of the Rotunda at UVA (Go Hoos!):
And the trash bag ghost hanging in the corner of the den! My son made that in kindergarten last year:
Here on an end table, we have glow-in-the-dark skeletons resting against my son's picture, half of a Little People Halloween play set (the people are missing), and a monster that dances and sings "Superfreak."
I say that when you have a theme going, you just need to run with it. Maybe someday I can do "tasteful," but for now, "tacky" carries the day, and that's just fine by me. Tacky is much more fun. So I decided that we would fully embrace my children's "more is more" philosophy when making these Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, which were chosen by the always fun and talented Clara of iheartfoodforthought. I am sure that many mega-talented TWD bakers made a stunningly elegant presentation of these cupcakes, and I cannot wait to check them all out. Us? We thought it would be best if the cupcakes matched the rest of the house, so I gave the kids full creative license in decorating these. And they took their jobs very seriously:
Because only by maintaining their steely focus could they ensure that no square millimeter of cupcake was left candy cornless.
Making the cupcakes was uneventful, which is an event in itself around here. The batter was highly lickable, and created some lofty expectations for the cupcakes. In fact, a bowl of this batter, a spoon, a comfy chair and a copy of People magazine might just be my personal definition of heaven.
The cupcakes looked like cupcakes when they came out of the oven:
Amanda made these a few weeks early and told me that next time she'd take them out of the oven a few minutes earlier, as she thought they were a tad on the dry side. I followed her advice and took them out after 20 minutes. They were definitely done by then, and I agreed with Amanda that they were a little dry. Dorie writes that these have a "close crumb," which may be world-renowned bakerspeak for "they're a little dry." Keep in mind that I don't have a particularly sophisticated palate, though, as evidenced by the fact that up until just last week, if the occasion called for chocolate cupcakes, I would have called on my good friend Betty Crocker Super Moist (which is, well, SUPERMOIST!!) But the flavor was great, and anyway, who would even notice the relative dryness/moistness of my cupcakes under all those Jack 'o Lantern Peeps?
The frosting, er, ganache, was wonderful. I used milk chocolate instead of bittersweet because I was trying to appeal to a youthful crowd. We had a lot of fun with these!! Clara, thanks for picking a fun recipe that helped us get into the Halloween spirit in the way that only an inverted candy corn nose can!