The autumn is such a wonderful time of year in this part of the world (Eastern Canada). The wonderful colours of the leaves in the forest and on the large tress lining our streets, ranging from yellow ocher, burnt orange, to fiery red, are so rich and cheerful! And the outdoor markets are filled with colourful seasonal produce, including all the different types of winter squash that are wonderful to use in cooking and decorating!
|That's me, a few years ago, with a bunch of squash "geese" in Montreal's Jean-Talon Market! Pumpkin anyone?!|
|Two lovely ladies adding to the cheerfulness of Montreal's Jean-Talon Market.|
The essential elements of Halloween, such as costuming, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, telling ghost stories, and attending community parties can be traced back 2000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (SOW-in or SOW-an), which means “summer’s end.” As the second major seasonal festival of the year (the first was called Beltain, celebrated around May 1st), Samhain marked the death of summer and the beginning of the Celtic New Year (Rogers 2002). As a moment of change, Samhain was viewed as a night of magic and power. [source: Random History]Naturally, one of the most fun elements of Halloween for any foodie like me is making all sorts of goodies for the little and bigger goblins around us! This year, I took a cake decorating course at the Academie Culinaire in Old Montreal, and we created a Halloween themed cake. Our Chef, Eleni, was great fun and as sweet as the cakes we were decorating! She suggested a spider and cobweb design, so here is my decorated cake:
The cake is a light genoise which I split into 3 layers. I sandwiched the layers with vanilla pastry cream, then covered the cake in Swiss meringue buttercream, before decorating it with thin fondant. The body of the spider is almond paste that I molded by hand. Yummy and quite light!
I also made dozens of large and mini Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream (all home-made of course, including the caramel à la fleur de sel), which I distributed to friends, family and neighbors. And oh my! These were such a huge hit! The cupcakes were based on a Martha Stewart recipe, although I changed the preparation technique completely (I'll be posting the recipe in another post on my gourmet webzine, www.EpicureanPiranha.com); and the icing is a simple buttercream blended with lots of salted caramel (i.e. caramel à la fleur de sel). I found some fun decorations this year ~ little pumpkin food pics and the tiniest black candy bats for decorating cakes ~ so this is what my mini Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream looked like:
Last year, I had made these cute little mini dark chocolate cupcakes, and had lots of fun making tiny almond paste pumpkins to decorate them:
The recipe for these intensely fudgy, chocolate cupcakes was from Martha Stewart, and I decorated them with a very light vanilla buttercream; sure to tame even the most evil of witches and goblins!
So here's wishing you all a fun, sweet, and slightly spooky Halloween!