Happy Halloween and Dia de los Muertos

I’m a bit late, but it is technically still Dia de los Muertos, so here we go! I’ve had lots of fun over the past few years making all sorts of treats with my skull baking pan. This year, I added a mini skull pan and found that even more fun, especially for taking treats to parties. Who doesn’t love a bite-sized skull? I went all-out and made chocolate, spice cake, and jello skulls. I really love these pans from Nordicware. They are heavy duty and have a nice non-stick surface. I anticipate using them for years to come.

I found out quite by accident that if you butter and flour the cake pan while the pan is still warm, the result is a sort of decayed skull effect. Love the way they look!

Last year, I made large cakes. Some were chocolate decorated with icing, and some were chocolate lava cakes. They were super fun to make, but a bit large for one person. I think that those are better if you’re doing a sit-down dinner. I did like the effect of the ooey-gooey chocolate brains.

You can use any cupcake or cake recipe you like, scaled down. For the mini cakes, bake for about 12 minutes; for the larger ones, bake for around 30 minutes. For the lava cakes, you can use any lava cake recipe, as those are generally for individually portioned cakes and will lend themselves well to this pan. Really, the sky’s the limit. Use your imagination and have fun!

I also made pizza skulls a couple of years ago with the large pan, and this year I made burrito skulls! The burritos were good, although I think the pizzas were even better. Not sure why I didn’t get a photo of the pizza fillings oozing out of the skulls…

And finally, to add something a little different, I made a creepy Halloween pie! Basically just a regular apple pie with some embellishments on the top crust. If you’ve been to one of my cooking classes, you’ve seen my tile backsplash and you know how much I love Dia de los Muertos. Below is a photo of one of the hand painted tiles on my backsplash, and a photo of myself many years ago, dressed up for work. I won the costume contest!

Here are a few recipes for some of these spooky treats. And if you buy the pans through my link, I will earn a tiny commission – thank in advance!

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Pizza Skulls

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 skulls

Ingredients

  • ½ recipe pizza dough
  • ¾ cups pizza sauce
  • 1 ½ cups low moisture mozzarella shredded
  • 1 link spicy italian sausage cooked and crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease skull pan.
  • Roll pizza dough into a large rectangle. Cut into six rectangular strips, about 3-4 inches wide.
  • Lay one strip of dough into one of the skull cavities. Fill with sauce, cheese, and sausage (and any other pizza toppings you'd like). Fold remaining dough over the top, stretching to fit as needed, and pinching to close. Repeat with remaining dough and fillings.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Place an inverted cooling rack on top of pan and carefully flip over. Lift pan to reveal skulls.
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Spicy Skull Cake Bites

Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time24 minutes
Total Time1 hour 4 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 36 skull cake bites

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare Skull Bites Cakelet Pan with baking spray containing flour and use a pastry brush to evenly coat the details of the pan.
  • Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter. Blend in egg and maple syrup until smooth.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
  • Slowly pour into butter mixture and blend on low speed until just combined.
  • Stir in hot water and blend.
  • Pour batter into each cavity, filling only half full. Gently tap pan on towel-covered countertop to remove any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and center of cakes firm to touch.
  • Cool cakes in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
  • Clean pan, prepare with baking spray and repeat with remaining batter.

Notes

This recipe comes from the Nordicware website, and is included with the mimi skull cake pan. https://www.nordicware.com/recipes/spicy-skull-cake-bites/
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Mini Jello Skulls

Prep Time10 minutes
Chilling Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18 mini skulls

Ingredients

  • 2 envelopes Knox Unflavored Gelatine
  • ½ cup cold fruit juice
  • 1 ½ cups fruit juice heated to boiling
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  • Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in large glass measuring cup and let stand for 1 minute.
  • Add hot juice and stir until gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes
  • Pour into mini skull molds, filling to the top of the mold.
  • Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
  • To unmold, place pan in a sheetpan of warm water to loosen a bit, then use your fingers to gently scoop the skulls out and put on a plate.

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