Cinnamon-Glazed Pecans and Two Cookie Recipes

Happy Halloween, lovely people!

Have I told you about my sister? I think I’ve let you in on some fun tidbits . . . like how I’m living with her this year, that she owns awesome kitchen gadgets (hellooo food processor), and that I learned all my baking skills from her. Though she’s a lot more organized in the kitchen, believe me. Somehow I missed that tutorial?

But the most important point about her today is that she loves holidays just as much as I do! Which is pretty ridiculous, considering my insane level of holiday cheer (I’m SO excited to break out my Little Miss Christmas shirt!). As lovers of the holidays, one of our favorite things to do is spread the holiday spirit through treat bags.

Why yes, I do actually own this sign. What can I say? I’m a festive person!

This has led to some pretty crazy baking (mis)adventures for us. One time, a day of testing molten lava cakes led to a sugar high for me, followed by a massive headache, resulting in my sister basically force-feeding me dumplings to stabilize my blood sugar as I tried to simply wallow on the couch. True. story. By the way, that was literally the first time I realized that consuming too much sugar could produce such a terrible result. Before that point, I thought people were weak when they talked about getting “sick” from too much candy. Yeah, point taken.

In celebration of Halloween, she decided to make treat bags for her co-workers! And by that I mean, we made treat bags for her co-workers. I may also have eaten some of the cookies (and I also tested the pecans just for quality purposes). However, that’s really not the point.

The point is, treat bags are delicious, sorta nutritious, and totally brighten the days of the recipients! Especially if they are bestowed with cute little treat tags tied on with ribbon. The treat tag pictures, by the way, are most definitely not my work. Way too profesh (from here). These are super adaptable for all seasons/holidays as well.

For the bags, we decided to make the cinnamon-glazed pecans that my best friend Hannah and I tested out this past weekend! If you’re buying these from a vendor/store, stop it right now. As Hannah put it, “Man, we’ve been getting ripped off for years!” Because these pecans are quite easy to make at home. Though we tried out a recipe using brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice, I would actually recommend just using brown sugar and cinnamon. Hannah tried this simpler version at home and gave it mad props.

We also made two kinds of cookies. One cookie is based off these award-winning chocolate chip cookies that I adapted in my very first post. These are, as I said, my very favorite chocolate chip cookies – so ridiculous soft and melty! For the second, we tried out these amazing Peanut Butter Cup Pudding Cookies. There’s really no going wrong with chocolate and peanut butter, and these were just about perfect. Simply based on my own tastes, I’ve slightly increased the pudding amount in my version below (more chocolate always), and changed up the ratio of white to brown sugar.

What are you waiting for? Make treats, eat treats, trick or treat . . . whatever you do, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

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Pumpkin Spiderweb Cheesecake

Since Halloween is an occasion traditionally associated with food (and yes, candy totally qualifies!), I – for once – don’t feel totally crazy about my food rants today. Such as the fact that I most definitely went trick-or-treating senior year of high school…after I told my parents I was going to study for the SAT IIs. Whoops? And then things seriously went south after my mom found a huge bag of candy in my closet. I really need to improve my hiding skills. And lying skills (maybe not?).

Or, the fact that Chipotle used to give out free burritos if you dressed up like a burrito on Halloween! I am convinced that if Chipotle had reserved the free burritos for those completely wrapped in tinfoil (like me – with green tissue paper for lettuce!), the free burrito deal would still be alive. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Thankfully, there are many more ways to get your food fix in on Halloween. And since amazing Halloween recipes (like this…or this!) have been popping up on all over the place, I decided it was time to give it a try. Unfortunately, my dessert decorating skills (as opposed to my dessert eating skills) are a bit below par. I generally try to dress up my desserts with sprinkles, cover mistakes with frosting, or, in severely desperate cases, drizzle melted chocolate on top as a distraction.

Um yeah sorry about all those finger marks…

When I came upon this picture of spiderweb cheesecake, however, I thought it looked pretty doable. What I didn’t factor into the picture was my running out of chocolate chips! Like, completely out. Which, considering the amount of chocolate chips I buy and the number of chocolate chip bags in the pantry only two weeks ago, is absolutely ridiculous.

So, I used a glaze…to initially good, and later abysmal (like when it started running all over my cheesecake) effects. That is why, though I used a glaze, I recommend using ganache, like Martha Stewart (the best) did.

I used my Mom’s recipe for cheesecake, which is a long-time family favorite that pops up every Thanksgiving! She actually got the recipe from her friend Anita (if you’re reading this, thank you for introducing this cheesecake into my life!). Trust me, it’s absolutely delicious. Continue reading