I love skulls. My favorite part of Hamlet? When dude clutches on to Yorrick's and gets hella morose. Sitting on my desk at work even as we speak I have one papier mâché skull that I was gifted for Christmas, and hanging from my cube wall I have a poster of the human skeletal system. Just so we're clear, this doesn't mean I mope around in all black listening to the Cure ... often.
Halloween is a great chance for me indulge in all things skull-related without seeming like a total morbid weirdo whose favorite movie in the 1990s was seminal hit The Craft. It's the one time of the year in the States where it's totally acceptable to display any and all things skull-like. It's the one time of the year I can whip out my skull cake pan without frightening small children in a bad, non-festive way.
I know! Skull cake pans ($34.99, Wilton)! I put off buying mine for a long, long time. But I have to say, it's one single-purpose kitchen buy I have yet to regret. The prepared pan I have includes a base-cake and top-cake mold.
The secret to getting perfect cakes out of each is careful greasing of the mold, making sure to let the cakes fully cool before you futz with them, only filling the pans halfway up (AT MOST), and trimming them down so they fit nicely together. Worst case scenario, your cake doesn't look perfect and you have an ugly cake for private feasting.
Just use your favorite cake recipe, and then, once the thing has cooled, get creative. I like to stick to a fairly traditional look for my skull on the outside and then get weird on the inside. This year, I made a traditional white cake stuffed with a strawberry "brains" filling, a pleasant and ghastly surprise.
Skull White Cake With Strawberry Brains
Ingredients for Cake:
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Skull cake mold
Ingredients for Strawberry Brains:
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries pureed
- Dark chocolate chips to taste
- White chocolate chips to taste
Directions for Cake:
- Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine egg whites, milk, and vanilla extract.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture then add half the milk mixture.
- Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape bowl and beater often.
- Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth top with a metal spatula.
- Bake cake(s) about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, remove paper, and let cool completely.
- Scoop out hole in base-cake (I use an ice-cream scoop). Fill with brains.
- Coat base-cake with brains. Affix top-cake.
Directions for Brains
- Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.
- Switch to a paddle attachment. With mixer on low, add strawberry puree and both chocolates and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Do you have any creepy Halloween recipe traditions?