If your kids don’t see you taking a break from work and having some fun, they may never learn to relax! SO after you've paid your dues giving away countless chocolate bars, it’s time to celebrate! AND if you’re single without a party invite, all the more reason to inject a bit of fun into your Halloween evening. (I was not married to the love of my life until my late forties so I consider myself an expert in this area.) Go ahead, follow 1, 2 or all 21 of the Ninja Baker’s tips on how to savor a Happy Grownup Halloween.
The Great Gateaux: Mini-Sized Pumpkin Bundts and Cakes
The mini cakes and bundts are made with a Smitten Kitchen Pumpkin Cake recipe. The chocolate topping is super easy. Melt 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate bits with truwhip or Cool Whip in a microwavable bowl. (About 90 seconds in a microwave.) To avoid splattered chocolate, cover the bowl with a paper towel. If you like, garnish with a candy pumpkin.
Halloween Sophisticates Club Members Only:
Sugar Free Black and White Cupcakes: Organic Persimmon Garnish and Plain
Truffles atop Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
The sugar free yellow cupcakes were made with a mix and topped with the chocolate glaze used for the mini pumpkin cakes. (If you missed it, the recipe is above.) To celebrate the crisp autumn air of Halloween (and to make the cupcake a tad healthy), I added an organic dried persimmon. In Japan, the persimmon (kaki) fruit is synonymous with fall. Not only do markets carry kaki, you see the fruit in autumn-themed kakemono artwork, cards and calendar pages.
The Pumpkin Muffin recipe also comes from the Smitten Kitchen. I substituted all-purpose flour with Bette’s Authentic Featherlight Flour Blend to make the muffins gluten-free for my husband, David. The muffins are slathered with the Smitten Kitchen’s Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. (Instead of maple syrup I poured in Wholesome Sweeteners’ Organic Maple Flavored Blue Agave Syrup.) The frosting atop the Smitten Kitchen’s moist and mildly spiced pumpkin muffins was dee-li-cious. The decadent dark chocolate truffles were pretty good, too.
Joy in Every Bite: Jeanne Sakamoto's Apple Pie
While I always associated the persimmon and fall in Japan; I thought apples and autumn were synonymous in America because it was a common gift given to teachers on the first day of school. Or at least that was my understanding via my first grade textbooks with titles such as Fun with Dick and Jane. Also, there was no trick-or-treating in our Japanese neighborhood so I was sent to the Tokyo American Club’s Halloween Party. One of the “funnest” activities was dunking for apples. However, the average adult lady in lipstick and heels may not appreciate the subtle maneuvers needed to grab apples with your teeth. So, why not bake up Jeanne Sakamoto’s Apple Pie or Liz Berg’s Apple Brownies from her site That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Liz also has some very sophisticated Halloween desserts such as Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. If that sounds intimidating, That Skinny Chick Can Bake’s Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf as well as her Streusel Topped Pumpkin Bread are reliable crowd pleasers.
Celebration of the Spirits
Magic Potion Photo Credit
Spooky Cocktail Photo Credit
Whether you choose to share your goodies or celebrate Halloween solo, inspired by
La Bella Vita Inspiration boards at Pinterest, I’m adding attractive drink recipes to this blog. Warning: Some may even be too pretty to drink!
Pumpkin Pie Martini
Hot Apple Cider
Sparkling Spiced Apple Cider
(Touted for Thanksgiving but also a spook-tacular Halloween treat.)
Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate
The Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate recipe requires a site subscription for download. The download includes access to a tasty take on the ever-popular Japanese okonomiyaki pancake.
Although Halloween celebrations are more prevalent now in Japan’s cosmopolitan centers, autumn has always provided a great excuse to savor the turn of seasons. From sublime artwork on rice paper to Kirin beer, I love how the Japanese add creative flair.
Something old, something new...
A Kirin beer can dressed up for autumn and a traditional Japanese sweet potato.
While autumn and Halloween have stirred up the muses of many to create spectacular visions, my favorite sound of fall in Japan was the song of the sweet potato man. When I was a child, the yaki-imo sweet potato man would pull his cart of potatoes roasting on coals down the street and sing his simple but soulful tune. At my nanny or stepmother’s behest, I’d run out to buy the sweet potatoes for dinner. Later, as a teen, I purchased hot potatoes from the same man. His vehicle, however, became a truck and his rich voice was replaced by a recording.
Sometimes I can’t help but sigh about the good ol’ days… I still highly recommend the magnesium rich sweet potato to scare away stresses and other matters that lurk in the minds of grownups on Halloween. (Sweet potatoes, by the way, also have loads of iron, B6, C and D vitamins.) But, I guarantee they won’t be as tasty as the roasted yaki-imo brought forth from the burning coals in that lovely man’s cart.
Some things like foods that accompany the traditions of Otsukimi (Harvest Moon Viewing) don’t change. Grilled matsutake mushrooms, hot sake wine are staples in Japanese households in October. In Southern Japan, they also enjoy the Harvest Moon by dropping an egg atop fried soba noodles. Fun fact: Otsukimi art often depicts rabbits in lunar settings. Why? Bunny warrens inhabit the moon according to Japanese legends.
A Kabuki actor riveted to an online Hiroshige print exhibit,
99 Barrels of Sake on the Wall
& Lunar Bunnies in the Autumn Moon
From Left to Right, Credits for Photos: The Kabuki actor, Sake Wine & Moon Rabbits
Whilst savoring the flavors of an adult Halloween or autumn, you might also enjoy perusing the Hiroshige autumn prints displayed at the Brooklyn Museum. You don’t live in New York? No worries. This link to the Brooklyn Museum is a definite plus in the name of progress. The Japanese master Hiroshige’s panels depicting the vermilion and emerald colors adorning trees in ancient Japan are but a click away. And once inspired by the masterful portrayals of nature, on the eve of spirits, try your hand at arranging a festive ikebana flower arrangement.
However, if you have paid your many years of dues as a parent or just want a night off from baking or cooking, pop the cork off of a maple leaf decorated Kirin beer or sparkling apple cider and see a not-too-scary movie. Here's BuzzSugar.com’s 15 Halloween Movies for Wimps
Wishing you time to be sweet to you, and idle hours to savor the autumnal pleasures of Halloween.
The Ninja Baker
© ™ Watkinson 2012
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