Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yesterday, while nursing a couple of facial stings incurred when I walked outside because I thought I had something important to say while Mr. W was trimming around the hives, removing honey supers, and doing the fall bee check (Funny, after I ran a few laps around the house with bees chasing me I forgot the very pressing news. I still don't remember what it was.), I sat in front of the computer and started reading blogs and news feeds. The first blog I read was Julie Zickefoose's and she was lamenting the invention of non-Halloween trick-or-treating (Hers was the Saturday before). Instead of soothing my frenzied adrenal glands I was issued another jolt. I panicked. Did we miss Halloween?

I called the hardware store, because technically they are the information clearing house for the town, and spoke to a mother who wouldn't judge me too harshly if I had, indeed, missed Halloween. I didn't miss it! But, Halloween was scheduled for that very night and you could only trick-or-treat from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Panic truly arose because we had not carved the pumpkins, made the popcorn balls and ghost cookies, or gotten the costumes ready and 5:30 was only four hours away. How can a town change a holiday and not tell the general public? At first I thought we didn't know because the children don't go to the school, but my mother didn't know until I told her so she wouldn't be embarrassed by not having candy when the hordes arrived, and we trick-or-treated at someone's house who didn't have any candy. So, I wonder how were we supposed to find out that trick-or-treating on a Wednesday interferes with church, so it can't be done. In spite of my confusion, I knew I had to get my side show into gear so the one trick-or-treater who usually comes to our house would not be disappointed because I chose not to buy store-bought, chemical laden candy this year.

First thing I did was tell the children that tonight was the night. Next, I asked K to start popping corn while I started boiling honey and sugar for the candy. Once all twenty four cups of popcorn were coated and formed, and we had eaten all the scraps we moved on to the Gingerbread Ghost Cookies. Miracle of miracles I had already made the dough and had it chilling in the fridge, so all we had to do was roll, cut, and bake. Of course, we had to decorate too, but all the icing was white, so was easier.

At 5:30 our first and only trick-or-treaters arrived while we were still in frenzied, slinging mode. The cookies weren't dry. OK, they weren't all decorated either. We were still cutting the pumpkins and Princess' hair was still in rollers because she was going for that curly-haired fairy look. I told the mom, the same one I called at the hardware earlier in the day, that I would bring the cookies tomorrow. I will, if I don't eat them before I get downtown. These cookies are soooo good. I got the recipe got from Williams Sonoma when I bought a copper, snowflake cookie cutter when I had the bright idea to decorate our seven foot Christmas tree exclusively with iced, gingerbread snowflakes. That is a story for a different time, but here is the recipe. Of course, I changed it a little.
Ginger Molasses Cookies
2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Ginger, Ground
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon, Ground
1 tsp Cloves, Ground
1 tsp Salt
¾ cup Butter
1 cup Sugar, Brown
1 Egg
¼ cup Molasses, Dark
1 recipe Royal Icing

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses and beat. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Shape dough into a ball, wrap with wax paper, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover baking sheets with parchment, silpat liners, or butter them profusely. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness. Cut cookies. Bake until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely if you are going to ice them.

Royal Icing
3 ea Egg Whites -- room temperature
4 ½ cups Sugar, Powdered
½ tsp Cream Of Tartar
1 pinch Salt

In an electric mixer combine all ingredients. Beat on medium high until stiff peaks form and mixture is nearly triple in volume. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Additional tips:
  • You really need to double the recipe for the cookies, but not for the frosting if you want everything to work out evenly.
  • For cookies exclusively for eating I use only butter, but if you use this recipe for a gingerbread house or for decorating a Christmas tree you really do need to use use some margarine or shortening to produce sturdier cookies.
  • Honey is a great substitute for the molasses, especially stronger flavored, fall honey, but can you really have gingerbread without molasses.
  • The Royal Icing recipe gives you basic icing which is for details and to outline the designs before filling in. To create the run out, just add a touch of water to create a less stiff consistency. Practice is the only teacher here. You don't want too much water because the more liquid icing will make the cookies less sturdy and will take oh so long to dry. You don't want too little water because then you won't get that smooth, puffy consistency that truly makes the cookie.
I realize these are inadequate instructions, so if y'all are interested I will do another post with pictures in time for Christmas cookies.

Isn't the packaging shown in the last picture winsome. My sister-in-law in Memphis always thinks of the cutest things. My goody bags will look like this next year!!!


ZBTzahBTzoo said...

MMMMMmmmmm-molasses! Sometimes I crave molasses cookies -- probably because molasses contains iron?

It's raining cats and dogs here, so I imagine the spooks will be few and far between. At first I felt horribly lazy for not going all-out with the treats, but since the clouds burst, I'm relieved!

Have fun -- and I hope your weather holds!

Melora said...

You got all that done in four hours? WOW! It would have taken me four just for the cookies. And mine would not have been beautifully packaged with popcorn balls in elegant goodie bags. Just wow.
That recipe looks good. I'm planning on making turkeys, so I'll try your recipe for them. I'm looking forward to the story about the tree!
Your town decrees what night Halloween is? And I thought We lived in the Bible belt. We parked in front of a church we used to attend last night and noticed that there were already quite a few cars there. Ed thought it meant lots of trick or treaters (the church is located on the best trick-or-treating street in the area), and I thought it was just for Wednesday service. I was right. But I don't think the trick-or-treaters bothered the worshippers, or vice versa. I guess every area has its own thing.

Kate in NJ said...

Wow! I love popcorn balls, but have never tried to make my own..maybe for Christmas. Beautiful cookies..and they sound yummy.

Angela said...

I am so glad I am not the only one. I didn't realize it until we drove past the trick or treaters on the way to youth group! it is so depressing having kids who no longer want to dress up!

Oh, these look wonderful! I am going to try this recipe for sure. You certainly pulled off a mini-miracle!

Becky said...

You put Martha to shame!

We've never had a single trick or treater out here -- everyone (including us) goes to town, and thank goodness there's no date switching here (yet), or I'd be a goner for sure! My parents in NYC said their trick or treaters came on the weekend, too. Maybe it's changed to avoid a school night?

Of course, we don't have to worry about that, because the kids slept in and then ate candy for breakfast!

Susan said...

I am copying the cute packaging next year.