The first time I was ever in the US, I went to a Halloween party. I was totally unprepared for just how serious a dress up party at Halloween is there. My friend and I made a half hearted effort to find a couple of witches hats and trotted off to a party that blew our socks off. The food and the decorations were magical and we felt like complete party poopers. To our surprise Halloween costumes aren’t always all about ghouls and monsters, they are also about just insanely good and quite often elaborate and expensive dress ups. If you don’t believe that just Google image Halloween costumes and you will see what I mean.
Hate it or love it Halloween is here to stay.
Some people hate the idea of another commercial occasion but I just see it as a bit of fun. It’s a way for kids to be use their imagination, play dress ups and have some well earned free time, even if that means a bit of a sugar hit. Kids don’t get much of a chance to be kids any more, life’s a rush for us all.
Do you love cruising?I’m told you can now even make a whole holiday of Halloween. I was amazed by this so I went looking at the possibilities to tell you all about it but apparently they are sold out this year already!. If you are interested for next year though, here’s how it shakes up…
- There’s a 10-night cruise on Carnival Legend departing Sydney on October 28, 2016 and including calls to Vila, Mystery Island, Isle Of Pines and Noumea, from $1499 per person twin share.
- Or Carnival Spirit will offer a six-night cruise from Sydney to the Melbourne Cup which departs Sydney on October 30, 2016, and also includes Halloween, from $1598 per person twin share.
I love the excuse for a party and I never overlook an occasion to make a cake. It’s a rare occasion that I get to make a cake in my favourite shade of black. Funny enough I had this icing left over from a special cake project at the beginning of the week. I can’t wait to tell you about soon, it was a cake project unrelated to Halloween but it required black cake-age too.
The cake is a very easy stir together chocolate fudge cake and it has chocolate buttercream. The sweets are available at Spotlight for the black balls and the skulls from Big W, but you could substitute any kind of spooky sweets or even Halloween orange cream Oreos would look great. Black icing is available from places like here in Sydney. Look for the nearest decorating shop in your area for ingredients.
- 2 cups/ 250 gm / 8.81 oz plain or cake flour
- 2½ cups/ 480 gm/ 16.90 oz of caster sugar
- ¾ cup / 50 gm / 1.76 oz of dark rich cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup / 250 ml / 8.45 fl oz vegetable oil
- 2 cups / 500 ml / 16.9 fl oz buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 500 gm (1.1lb) unsalted butter softened
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 heaped cups sifted pure icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 200 gm (7oz) melted dark chocolate
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 700 gm black icing
- pure icing sugar for rolling
- ½ an egg white plus up to an extra ½ cup icing sugar to make glue
- black food colouring
- Lollies for decorating
- A cake plate
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together for the cake well in a mixer.
- Mix the eggs, oil, buttermilk, lemon and vanilla in a bowl then add to the dry ingredients and mix on low till combined. Beat well.
- Pour into the two cake tins equally.
- Bake in a pre heated oven for approximately 40 minutes. Test the cake with a tooth pick by inserting into the centre of the cake. The pick should come out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before running a sharp knife around the tin, removing and then leaving to cool on a rack . Refrigerate for several hours or overnight (The freezer can speed up this process)
- Cut each cake into two through the centre leaving 4 equal rounds.
- Beat the butter till light and fluffy. Meanwhile melt the chocolate and let it cool a little. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar and the cocoa powder and then the chocolate and vanilla and beat till light. Chill a little so it is easy to spread.( can be made ahead then brought back to room temperature)
- Fill each layer of the cake with about 1 cup of icing, leaving an equal amount to cover the cake.
- Start by adding a large amount onto the top of the cake and start spreading it right across the top and down the sides. It will take a while to get the frosting even and completely covering the cake in a nice thin layer as smooth as possible. The cake only needs a fine coating. Chill to set.
- Knead the black icing till smooth. Sprinkle a small amount of icing sugar onto a bench with a sifter and brush till it is very well spread and thin. The sugar will make the black icing look white if you use too much. To make a cake of this size you will need to roll out approximately a 15 in / 38 cm diameter icing. As you roll run the pallet knife under the black icing continuously so that it doesn't stick to the bench.
- Fold the icing in half and put the folded half onto the middle of the cake and then unfold to cover the entire cake. (The icing can be gathered together and re-rolled if you have trouble with splitting or tearing, before you put it onto the cake. Once it touches the buttercream though it is on the cake and can't be moved.)
- Smooth down the side pushing out the folds. You should be able to get rid of all of them except the one. Cut a v into the icing and remove the excess, then push it together and smooth over with a piece of plastic or shiny satiny material. Cut the icing off at the bottom of the cake around the plate. (Plan to put decorations onto rough sections).
- I rolled out a long black ribbon and cut it into a 3 in or 7 cm size. I wrapped this around the base of the cake and formed the end into a black rose. This is optional for you.
- To make edible glue for sticking on the decorations, put the egg white into a bowl ( don't use a whole white!) and start mixing in the sifted icing sugar until you have a paste that is easy to spread. This paste will look better if it is coloured black so add a drop or two of colour and re- adjust the thickness by adding some more icing sugar.
- Use this paste on the end of a toothpick to paste on whichever decorations you would like to use. Use a small brush or a pastry brush to get rid of any icing sugar stuck to the black icing.
- To make the bloody syrup, mix red food colouring with glucose syrup ( available in the supermarket)
I have no affiliation with Carnival Cruises.