*Or, Why We No Longer Celebrate Halloween in the DDD Household
[Don't be scared. It's really tasty!]
When the HH and I first lived together, our home in an older, mostly run-down neighborhood wasn’t exactly child-friendly. I vividly recall one sweltering summer’s evening as we lay sprawled in our bed, windows wide open (no A/C in that place), sweat pouring onto the sheets as we inadvertently eavesdropped on a lovers’ quarrel between our neighbour and his girlfriend out on the street below. They had both obviously imbibed a few too many Molsons that night, and the man kept insisting in a slurred voice, “Get in truck. Get back in the truck. C’mon, get in the truck,” over and over, then pause, and start up again: “I said get in the truck. You get in that truck!! Get in the truck. Get in the f—ing truck!” After listening to this sloshed symphony until 2:00 in the morning, I had to restrain myself from leaping to the window and screaming at the top of my lungs, “GET IN THE F—ING TRUCK ALREADY!!” I just wanted to get some sleep.
When moved to our current neighborhood, we were elated at the prospect of finally “doing” Halloween. The streets were teeming with children after school, all congregating over soccer balls, running through the bushes playing tag, cycling with oversized helmets and training wheels with dads by their sides. We felt it would be a great way to compensate for our own pumpkin-deprived childhoods (as I’ve mentioned before, The HH never celebrated the usual children’s events as a kid; and my dad spurned the whole pumpkin-carving tradition entirely. Did he think it was a bad omen? Or just a waste of perfectly good food? We’ll never know.).
Back then, my years as a Candida Queen were still far ahead of me, so I envisioned Halloween as a chance to dole out every manner of processed, artificial, “chocolatey” and decidedly bad-for-you “candy” to eager recipients. I immediately drove to Walmart and purchased three mega-sized cartons of assorted Halloween treats (you know, the big ones, with 118 miniature Snickers, Twix, M & Ms or Smarties, BBQ chips, or rolls of pale sour candies in each).
On October 31st, The HH carved the most outrageous pumpkin face I’d ever seen, its expression a cross between Cesar Romero’s Joker and Jim Carrey in The Mask. We placed a lit candle inside and, along with our decor of spider-webbing, bat cutouts, and a cardboard image of a cackling witch on a broomstick, we were finally ready to greet all the little ghouls and goblins at our door. We turned out the lights and waited with eager anticipation.
As soon as the first smiling Princess Ariel rang the doorbell, we knew we’d made a horrendous mistake. At the first flicker of movement outside the door, The Girls--previously near-comatose in front of the fireplace–sprang to action like latter day Hounds of the Baskervilles, flinging themselves at the front door like hail against a windowpane. Their barks, growls, snarls, yips and other assorted canine sound effects were deafening. With a shriek truly befitting Halloween, the little girl dropped her bags of candy and sprinted down the walkway to her horrified parents.
I was disconsolate.
“Our dogs are in the Red Zone!” I lamented. “They wanted to eat that poor kid!!”
“Now, now, stop exaggerating,” the HH ventured. “Maybe it was just the surprise of it all. Let’s give it another go.”
But The Girls would have none of it. Each time the doorbell rang (and eventually, each time a tentative trick-or-treater even approached our front door), they were transmogrified into roaring, menacing being from the worst horror movie you can imagine.
Scary, yes. Just not the right kind of scary.
Eventually, I was struck with a brilliant idea: “We can put the bowl of treats outside on the porch with a note that says, “HELP YOURSELF.” That way, the kids won’t even have to face the dogs! (I know. Those of you with kids are chuckling now.).
About 47 seconds after setting out the bowl, I noticed a few stray Kit Kat bars on the kitchen counter and went to the porch to add them to the stash. With the Girls safely tucked into the TV room upstairs, I opened the door and found. . .
EEEEEEEKKKKK!!! GAHHH!!!! HORRORS!!!! The bowl was completely empty!!
That’s right: those little witches and warlocks had nabbed all of the 354 miniature candy bars–in less than a minute!! Of course I should have known that, offered free candy in an unsupervised bowl on an empty porch, kids would simply grab as much as their wee hands could hold. Which worked out to about 89 candy bars each, by my reckoning.
These days, the HH and I try to go out to dinner on Halloween to avoid the embarrassment entirely. I have no doubt we’re known in the neighborhood as the Mean Old Couple with the Two Vicious Dogs who doesn’t participate in Halloween. (This despite the fact that those same kids play with The Girls throughout the summer, and have fed them treats or asked to walk them on other occasions.) Instead, I attempt to share the spirit of the holiday in other ways–like bringing a big tray of these Halloween Whoopie pies to work with me, or inviting friends to partake.
I’ve noticed a lot of Pumpkin-Shaped Layer Cakes around the internet lately composed of two Bundt cakes laid bottom to bottom, then frosted with orange frosting. I thought it would be a cute idea to replicate the cakes in a miniature form, and got myself a mini-bundt pan for the job. The cake layers are simply my recycled Chocolate Whoopie Pie recipe (why mess with it, if it works?) topped with this foolproof Sweet Orange Frosting. If frosting a ball-like cake seems too fussy to you, making a regular whoopie pie with the filling works pretty well, too.
Happy Halloween to all! And if you drop by our house on the 31st and the place looks abandoned, don’t take it personally. We’re just protecting you from the vicious guard dogs within.
Halloween Whoopie Pies
These miniature layer cakes are perfect for a Halloween party or event. Once the cakes are baked, the pumpkins come together fairly easily. When it’s no longer October, these can be baked as regular whoopie pies–or use the frosting on its own with any flavor layer cake.
One recipe Whoopie pies (cake only)
Sweet Orange Frosting:
1 cup sweet potato purée (see note)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lucuma powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) light agave nectar
20-30 drops orange flavored stevia (or use plain or vanilla)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural cashew butter (or use tahini, or a combination)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) plain or vanilla rice milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) gently warmed coconut butter (not coconut oil)–it should be liquid
Place all ingredients except coconut butter in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the coconut butter by hand. For a fluffier frosting, beat with electric beaters until light in color and texture. If frosting is too thick, add a bit more rice milk, about one teaspoon (5 ml) at a time, until desired spreading consistency is reached. Makes 1-3/4 cups (enough for 4-6 filled and frosted whoopie pies; or 8-10 filled whoopie pies).
For Pumpkin Shaped Whoopie Pies: Place filling between two cakes, lining up the bottoms to create a pumpkin shape. Frost each with more frosting, then pipe with melted chocolate to resemble a pumpkin, if desired.
NOTE: You can use canned sweet potato purée if you like, or make your own (that’s what I did). I find that baked sweet potatoes begin to caramelize in the oven and confer a much sweeter flavor. Simply bake a large sweet potato, unpeeled and uncovered, at 400F (200C) until very soft and browned on the outside. Allow to cool completely, then peel off the skin and purée in a food processor until perfectly smooth.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
“Mum, you’re really making us sound much worse than we are. Does this face look like it would eat little children? Okay, don’t answer that. And we would have happily shared all those treats. . . we’re not allowed to eat chocolate, anyway. How about some of that orange frosting instead?”
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Three Years Ago: Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs