I know I keep telling everyone each year that we never celebrate Halloween around here in the way of costumes and candy, but I always think that aspect of it makes it such a fun holiday. It seems more people are getting into the Halloween spirit locally though, because I have been seeing more and more imported Halloween candy lining the supermarket shelves as the years go by. In Rustans’s there is an overwhelming amount of them in different shapes and flavours. Just seeing them tickles the kid inside me!
I’ve noticed that my habits right around this time of year are geared towards getting into the Halloween spirit as much as my life would allow: There would be cravings that make me nosh on a bit more candy than usual. My thing for sour gummy candies comes to life, or I get a real hankering for some caramel apples. Mostly it’s dark chocolate bars that fall victim.
Second is that I am always in the mood for reading something along the lines of ghosts and creepy creatures. Two years ago I read the hair-raising The Restorer by Amanda Stevens and looooved it. Last year I had purposefully sought out zombie-related books even though zombies don’t interest me much. Luckily I’ve discovered that sometimes zombie-stories can be utterly good, like Mira Grant’s Feed. This year I’m going with a dark fantasy story in the form of The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin.
And finally, I always have this overwhelming urge to make something Halloween-themed in the kitchen. What is it with Halloween and Christmas that makes baking and cooking seem more fun? My Halloween treats are often my own poor attempt at joining the festivities but an attempt nonetheless!
For this year’s Halloween treat I decided to go with something more cute rather than serious or scary. I guess you could say I’m feeling a little less gloomy compared to the previous year. In any case, this was a project I had been looking forward to since August. I haven’t made whoopie pies in a long time so I thought, ‘Hey, there’s a lot I can do with a Halloween-themed whoopie pie!’
This recipe makes me sad in its potential of what could have been had I executed this whole project well. To be fair, I had not expected for it go wrong at the very last moment, because everything was smooth sailing up to that point. I had baked the chocolate whoopie and they were absolutely amazing and moist. Possibly the most tender and most tasty whoopie pies I have made to date! Chocolate and matcha go well together and it’s the same in this case.
As the cakelets were cooling, I proceeded to preparing the spider legs, making sure to pop them in the freezer for a much longer time than indicated in the recipe because it’s too hot in here not to.
After the legs it was time for the eyes, which I must say is the absolute best part of this whole undertaking. The eyes are the windows to the souls of my whoopie pies! Or something like that. It was fun making cross-eyed, nervous-eyed, crazy-eyed, mostly just uneven-eyed whoopies. 😉
So after all that was set and my chocolate spider legs were pretty frozen, it was time to turn them into spiders. And then the worst thing happened: my spider legs melted at my touch! Every time I managed to get them into the whoopies they would just fall apart because the legs had gotten too soft to stand up for too long! They kind of just break apart after a few seconds of being in the whoopie pie.
I realize now I piped them legs waaaay too thin. I should have made them a bit thicker so they would still remain sturdy even after handling. Or I could’ve made the filling a bit thicker so the legs would have a bit more cushion against the pressure of the spider-heads.
Or perhaps I could’ve just used chocolate sticks. Or licorice. Well here I am again doing my lengthy self-analysis. Let’s just move on…
At least I can focus on the fact that these are yummy and super cute with or without the legs! Let’s call this a win-win situation anyway! 🙂
Chocolate and Matcha Whoopie Critters
Makes about 25 whoopie pies
For the chocolate whoopies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk*
For the green tea filling
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1½ tablespoons matcha green tea powder
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons 85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the whoopie critter decoration
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 Tablespoon water
Make the whoopies
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- 3. With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
- 4. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until combined. Then gradually beat in buttermilk until batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- 5. Put the batter into a piping bag with a large tip. (Or use a resealable plastic bag with a half-inch cut at the corner.) Pipe out one-tablespoon mounds of batter spaced two inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake whoopies about 12 minutes or until cakes spring back when poked. Transfer to rack to cool completely, pairing up whoopies of the same sizes.
Make the filling
- 6. In a medium bowl, sift powdered sugar and matcha together. Add cream cheese and butter then beat with a mixer on low speed at first, then on medium until filling becomes very smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To make the legs**
- 7. Line another baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper. You can make a guide for the legs and place it underneath the parchment.
- 8. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring during every interval until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cool for a few minutes then transfer the chocolate to a small resealable bag and cut a 3-millimeter tip off one of the bottom corners.
- 9. Squeeze the melted chocolate out of the little opening and onto the wax paper, drawing the legs in the shape of an inverted V with a line extended to one side. Instead of dragging the chocolate against the wax paper, squeeze it out from about a half an inch above the paper and let the stringy chocolate fall on it as you draw the legs. This is so that the chocolate legs won't be flat. Leave a little of the chocolate in the piping bag for the spider's eyes.
- 10. Take the baking sheet to the freezer to let the chocolate legs harden. About ten minutes will do. Also freeze a thin metal spatula.
To make the eyes
- 11. Combine the powdered sugar with the water and stir until well combined. It should be rather stiff, but if it's too stiff that it's crumbly you can add a few more drops of water until it becomes more manageable.
- 12. Take one piece from the paired whoopies to serve as the spider-head. Use a toothpick to drop some of the white frosting onto the tops of the heads, keeping it round or oblong-shaped as much as possible. Then use the leftover chocolate from the spider legs and pipe a tiny drop in the middle of each white eye.
- 13. Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, generously spread some filling on the bottom whoopie and top with its spider-head pair. Repeat for rest of cakes.
- 14. Remove tray of chocolate spider-legs from the freezer and gently peel off the legs using the metal spatula. Transfer the legs to a large dry plate.
- 15. Working quickly to keep the legs from melting in your fingers, insert four legs into a side of one spider's creamy filling, then insert four more legs into the opposite side.
** If making whoopie critters only and not spiders, then skip this step and go directly to making the eyes.
Whoopie pies adapted from MyRecipes; spider decorations adapted from Wing It Vegan
- Jalapeno Popper Mummies from The Hopeless Housewife— Next year I’m thinking of doing something savoury instead of sweet. Something like this! So cute and it looks super yummy!
- Vampire Bite Brownies from Oh Nuts— Super clever way of making use of those vampire teeth gummies! Vampire-lovers would go gaga over this, I bet!
- Frankenstein Marshmallows from Inside Bru Crew Life— I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, but if it looks like this, count me in!
- Candy Corn Tuxedo Cake from SprinkleBakes— What a seriously gorgeous cake! I love the colours of the layers and how they look so eye-catching when arranged like that. I realize it’s supposed to look like a candy corn in cake form but look at it! This isn’t a cake you limit to just Halloween.
- Spiderweb Naked Red Velvet Cake from Sugarhero— The perfect centerpiece for an absolutely spooky Halloween party! It can also double as a birthday cake for a kid who likes Spiderman, I think.
- Salted Caramel Apple Snickers Cake from Half-Baked Harvest— When I saw this cake, I immediately thought, ‘If Snow White were to have a birthday party, this would be absolutely perfect!’ Such a gorgeous GORGEOUS cake, not to mention I like salted caramel apples. SOLD!
Have fun! Oh and…