At about age 35 I decided that Halloween was my favorite holiday. We started having Halloween parties and things just took off. It was almost scary.
Whichever Saturday was closest to Halloween became the night of the Halloween party. Written invitations went out a month ahead. The RSVP’s came in. Usually there were at least 60 to 70 people in attendance.
After dark, the guests poured in. But even before they hit the front door they were part of the experience. We went all out to decorate the yard.
One of the most popular decoration themes for the yard was a graveyard. Each person in attendance at the party had a personal gravestone. In those days, you could not buy Halloween decorations like you can now. I had to make them. So each guest had a “gravestone” made out of neon poster paper. I bent coat hangers and taped them to the back to they would stand in the grass. Imagine a front lawn with 70 gravestones that suddenly pop up a few days before Halloween.
It got to be pretty funny. Neighbors told me they’d drive or walk by to see who was attending the party that year. They could tell just by walking by the front of the house and reading the gravestones.
One year there was a 20-foot high spider web spread up two stories to the top of a tree in our front yard. And of course, a giant spider. Every year the pumpkins we carved got more and more elaborate.
There was a party BEFORE the big party. That one was the one in which people volunteered to help decorate and cook so we could feed the masses. My sister was in charge of one thing; and one thing only. Spider webs. She’d spend hours finding places to stretch those stringy white webs. I think you know that can be done quickly and in sloppy fashion. That was not my sister. She was meticulous and did a fabulous job.
There was a “boy” list and a “girl” list. It was sort of sexist but any boy could do things on the girl list and vice versa. The boy projects usually involved heavy lifting or construction elements. The girl list mostly involved food prep. We had a blast even before the big party started.
I will be able to write columns for years to come from all the stories that surfaced from the 10 years of Halloween parties. For now, I’ll give you just a bit of the details in case you want some hints on things you could incorporate into yours. These things worked well for me...
This is a quick cake that can be served at a party. You don’t need large pieces when something has as much flavor as this does. Pumpkin treats are a big hit in the Fall and over the holidays.
Servings: Serves 12
2 Tbl of melted butter
1 cup of pureed pumpkin (from the can)
½ cup of ZSweet or Swerve sugar substitute
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp of vanilla
½ tsp of grated sea salt
1-1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
¼ tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1/3 tsp of nutmeg
¼ cup of coconut flour or Carbalose flour
¾ cup of almond flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan with butter spray or baking spray. I used my loaf pan. You can also use a 9-inch round springform pan or a 9-by-9-inch square pan. The final result will look like a single layer cake.
In your mixing bowl, put in the eggs, butter, pumpkin, sugar sub, and vanilla. Begin beating on medium to mix the ingredients. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides so everything is incorporated. Now let the mixer run for two minutes on high. I actually use a timer because I want to make sure the eggs get good and whipped.
Turn off mixer. Now, most cake recipes will tell you to mix all of the dry ingredients in another bowl and then incorporate them. I’m too lazy for that or in a hurry. I put all of the dry ingredients in the bowl on top of the wet ones but I make sure that as I add them I sprinkle them on so nothing is in one blob. So dust your spices over the top. Dust the baking soda and even spread out the flour. Then do the same thing to mix. Run the mixer on medium for about 10 seconds to blend. Then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Then let it run for another 2 minutes to make sure it’s all incorporated well and you’ve stirred it up really thoroughly.
Pour the batter into your prepped 9” pan and make sure it’s spread evenly. Then bake for 30 to 35 minutes. You can test for doneness with a toothpick. If it comes out clean you’re all set.
Cool the cake and then frost it with Cream Cheese Frosting (below). Store leftovers in the refrigerator. I try to take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving it but truthfully, the cold cake tastes really lovely too.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz of softened cream cheese
½ stick of softened butter
1 tsp of vanilla
3 – 4 drops of liquid stevia
½ cup of POWDERED ZSweet or Swerve*
Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until creamy. You can taste test your frosting to see if you want to add any more liquid stevia. I think it’s plenty sweet with just a few drops. A little goes a LONG way of that stuff so be careful when adding it.
I frosted this cake in a simple manner. If you want to decorate it you can make half again as much frosting and then you’d have enough to pipe a border on top and bottom.
*I buy powdered ZSweet on line but if you only have the granulated version you can put it in your food processor and turn it on to make your own powdered sugar.