Sunday, October 31, 2010
Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween! :) I hope you're all enjoying your weekend.

For the past many years, I have spent Halloween in New York City watching the Village Halloween Parade. Even much more than the parade (or, rather, the crowded sidewalks - ugh), I enjoy people watching, walking around the neighborhoods looking at home decorations, or sipping hot apple cider at the Union Square Farmer's Market.

Well, nothing like these decorations here. ;) Since I'm spending this Halloween in Europe and am traveling this weekend as well, I didn't attend any wild parties. I did, however, get the chance to help out with baking some Halloween treats to a party at a local nursing home. We made several dozen chocolate chip muffins, some m&m cookies, and double layer brownies. Since I got to choose the recipes, I naturally chose a vegan version of everything (except for the m&m's, where I had no choice). The baking challenge came kind of short notice, so I didn't have the time to bake a test batch of anything - therefore, I chose two different muffin recipes, just to make sure at least one of them would turn out okay.

The first batch was Stella's Chocolate Chip Yoghurt Muffins, and for the second batch, I used this recipe (I tripled both recipes). Both turned out beautiful and really delicious! We drizzled a little of my favorite chocolate glaze on top, and finished each muffin off with a homemade marzipan pumpkin (or a green worm ;)).

The theme of the party was not "pretty cupcakes" - the scarier the better - but they were tasty! :D

For the cookies, I used the recipe for Red's Ultimate M&M's Cookies, and simply veganized it by using vegan margarine and egg substitute. I made a test cookie for myself without the m&m's, but I have to say these were not my favorite cookies, as I could smell/taste the baking soda in them (I think I have an over-sensitive nose when it comes to baking soda. Gingerbread cookies are the only ones where I can use baking soda without tasting it at all). That's just strange me, however, and everyone else LOVED them - and this time, that's all that matters. :) Unfortunately, I forgot to take a close-up picture of the cookies, and only have this one of the table set up.

My favorite of all these treats were the brownies. Don't get me wrong - I love muffins and cookies as well - but there's just something about the gooey texture and the deep chocolate taste of these brownies that made me reach for a second bite... and maybe a third one as well. ;) We cut these into very small, bite-size pieces, since they were so rich and sweet (the plate pictured below is a tiny coffee plate).

The brownie recipe can be found here. The only change I made was divide the batter in half, then mix in the cocoa powder to the other half only (I reduced the amount to 1/3 c, as the people at the party prefer milder flavors), and spread the white layer over the chocolate one.

My friend says the party this afternoon was a success, and I'm so glad everyone liked our treats (of course there were many, many more things that were not pictured above - ours were just a small part of the dessert spread).


I met this lady and her sweet owner in NYC on Halloween in, I think, 2008...

This year, naturally, Finn was our Halloween dog. In true Halloween fashion, it turned out that he is afraid of the dark! Poor guy. I was wondering what he was up to, as he walked right by my side - touching my leg - whenever I took him out for a walk in the evening, whereas during the day, he'd usually walk a few steps ahead of me. His owner came by tonight to pick him up, and told me he's terrified of the dark, and will never go out the door in the night alone - he only agrees to go out if he's accompanied by one of the other [brave female] dogs. Apparently, the male Scottish Deerhounds are specially sensitive and should always be addressed with a gentle, encouraging voice, and may be afraid of ghosts and many other things. ;)

I think Finn's costume was "Bat". It is unbelievable how small he can curl up on the couch, with his long legs and all. Here he's asking, "wouldn't you please put the camera away and come scratch me instead?". :)

Despite missing the Halloween festivities in the US, I was so happy to have the chance to spend the holiday together with my parents. We had some wonderful food, and my Mom carved this handsome Jack O'Lantern out of one of our giant pumpkins. Sadly, our other giant died on us just before Halloween, so we never got to turn it into a lantern and had to throw it straight into the compost. We had carved it about a week earlier, as there was a crack on the skin and it looked like the pumpkin was just not going to make it. Oh, well. Luckily his brother made it until the big day.

Have a fun Halloween night - I look forward to reading all about your adventures!  :)