Skeleton Bones

Family tradition dictates that we have a major Halloween celebration every October during which 30 or 40 costumed children run screaming through my house, playing games, making crafts, and loading up on candy and other snacks.

The other snacks traditionally include hot dogs, chili, squash soup, hard boiled spider eggs, salsa, guacamole, kale chips, a poppy seed encrusted cheese ball, black Kool-Aid, a chocolate fountain, a Jell-O gummy worm pie…

… various cupcakes and cookies, like these floating eyeball cauldrons…… and my personal favourite it-wouldn’t-be-a-party-without-them skeleton bones.I love them so much I’m going to show you two pictures. Here is what they look like all piled up in a bowl.Every year the party is wild, every year it is fun, and every year something else unexpected happens. For example, this year we discovered what happens when you jam a toothpick into the intake valve of the chocolate fountain. It explodes. It becomes volcanic. It spews melted chocolate everywhere.

Skeleton bones are very simple to make. Too simple for a formal recipe, really. You need three ingredients: miniature marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and white chocolate. I will leave you to figure out the rest from the photos, while I head back to the kitchen to continue scrubbing bits of chocolate off my appliances.


Carrot Cake for 100

My dear friends Daryle and Heather got married last weekend. I made the cake.

Heather’s favourite cake is carrot, which thrilled me to no end. Wedding cakes take a while to decorate, which means that you need to bake them a bit ahead, and do your best to keep them from going stale before the reception. Carrot cake stays naturally moist and delicious for days.

The wedding theme was travel, a passion of both Daryle and Heather’s, and the entrance to the reception was decorated with old-fashioned suitcases. Unbeknownst to Heather, I obtained a photograph of them ahead of time, and copied them with the cake. Each tier is a different suitcase.

All in all, this cake took about 20 hours to bake, frost, and decorate. The decorations are done with a 1:1 blend of fondant and modeling chocolate, which is my preferred medium to work with because it creates an optimum balance between actually tasting good and being easy of roll and shape.

I’m quite pleased with my decorating job, though not with my cake leveling skills. The suitcases are a bit off-kilter. It’s been a while since I’ve done a wedding cake.

Wedding Carrot Cake (multiply by 6 to feed 100)

  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup drained, crushed pineapple
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
  2. Combine the oil, sugar, carrots, pineapple, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and stir until well mixed.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just blended.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45  minutes, until center of cake is set.
  6. Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven, poke it several dozen times, all over with a toothpick, and pour on hot buttermilk glaze. Let cool completely and frost with white chocolate  cream cheese frosting.

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 T. golden syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. About 15 minutes before cake is finished baking, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will foam considerably. This is normal. Do not panic. Just keep simmering and stirring.
  2. Pour hot glaze over the hot cake.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 8 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled until only slightly warm
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Keep beating while you slowly drizzle in the white chocolate.
  3. Continue to beat until frosting is light and fluffy.