Searching For Ambrosia: Jack Of The Lantern Legend Creates CupcakesOct 22nd, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Editorials
Halloween will soon be here and so will the time to carve the October pumpkin and make up some spooky and creative goodies, if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am. I won’t debate the celebration of Halloween or discuss it’s origin, but I will discuss at length my memories of the evenings I had as a child and the fun that I had trick or treating door to door, the outrageous costume parties and the unusual and creative foods eaten. When looking for inspiration on Halloween baking this year, I came across the Irish folktale that supposedly spurred the creation of the Jack-O’-Lantern, which brought me to the decision to make my own version of a Jack-O’-Lantern cake. The legend of “Stingy Jack” originated from an Irish myth about a man named Jack who outwitted the devil, numerous times while alive, from getting his soul. After dying, he was not allowed into heaven or even hell due to his deceptiveness. He was doomed to forever roam the earth, and to light his eternal path, the devil would only give Jack a burning coal which he was said to have put inside a carved-out turnip. In Ireland and Scotland, people began making own their versions of “Jack of the Lantern” using turnips and potatoes and would then place them into windows or near doors to frighten away “Stingy Jack” or other evil spirits. Immigrants brought the tradition to the United States and soon found that pumpkins made perfect Jack-O’-Lanterns, and in using them, created a lasting tradition. The cupcake version of “Stingy Jack” that I did this year is super easy, but looks a bit more impressive than a plate of regular cupcakes. It’s convenient too because using cupcakes means no utensils, no slicing and even plates are optional. Use any cake recipe you want for the cupcakes, even a boxed mix if you’d like. The amount of cupcakes you use will depend on how large you want the final cake to be. The same goes for the frosting; you can use a cream cheese based, butter based, or whatever you like. I used a standard butter frosting that I will include a recipe for because it’s great to decorate with and to tint with color. However you celebrate Halloween, I hope you have a fun and safe holiday. If you decide to use the cupcake Jack-O’-Lantern, send me an email with your creative version and I’ll be sure to share it with other readers. Cupcake Jack-O’-Lantern (Use any cake recipe you wish for cupcakes.) Classic Butter Frosting 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 4 cups confectioner’s sugar 1 TB vanilla extract (or use whatever flavoring you like) ¼ tsp salt 3 to 4 TB milk orange, brown, green and yellow paste food colors (found in cake decorating sections of stores) In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Add two cups of the sugar and mix until well combined. Add vanilla, salt and three TB of the milk. Mix in the last two cups of sugar and beat until smooth. If frosting is too stiff, add the last TB of milk. You can adjust the frosting at this point, by adding a little more sugar if you need it stiffer, or a little more milk if you need it softer. Tint with desired colors. This recipe is easy to increase if you are making a large cake. To assemble cupcakes: Arrange cupcakes in a circle and fill in the center with more cupcakes. After you have your shape formed, put a small dab of frosting underneath each cupcake that’s on the outside circle to keep the cupcakes in place. At this point you will have “holes” where the cupcakes butt up to each other. Fill these holes with frosting, candies, marshmallows or whatever edible food you wish. (This will keep the decorative frosting from falling down into the holes). Next, use your orange icing to completely cover the cupcakes to look like a regular cake. Use other colors of icing to decorate as desired. You could also use candies or sprinkles to make the face. Have fun! You can send pictures, recipes or requests to email@example.com.