Of all the holidays that you don’t get off work for, Halloween is my favorite. All the other holidays- Christmas, Independence Day, Presidents Day, you name it- are about honoring something that people like. Halloween isn’t having any of that- it’s just this crazy mish-mash- it’s all about the dead and the undead, but it’s mostly for kids; it’s scary, but it’s silly; you beg for food and threaten vandalism, but it’s wholesome; for some reason, there’s candy involved and you carve faces into pumpkins.
These brownie creatures capture some of what I love about Halloween. They’re something spooky and silly. They’re easy for kids to decorate and their homemade-ness shows, like a DIY costume. They go overboard with the candy, in the spirit of the trick-or-treater. Best of all, like making a jack-o-lantern, they’re a reason for the whole family to sit down and create something together.
Homemade Halloween Brownie Creatures
makes 11 brownie rounds
for the brownies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
10 tablespoons butter
3/4 cocoa (regular or Dutch process)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
for the decorations
white cake decorating frosting
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter one large or two small muffin tins and then dust each cup with cocoa powder.
In a heavy-bottomed large saucepan combine the butter, cocoa, sugar and salt. Stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Set the mixture aside for five minutes to let it cool slightly. Then add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir the mixture well, until everything is smooth. Stir in the flour, and then continue stirring for a full minute until everything is quite smooth.
Spoon roughly 1/4 cup into each of the muffin cups. Bake the brownies. This is the tricky part. Start checking after 12 minutes, you want a toothpick inserted on the center to come out with a little bit of batter stuck to it. Too much batter and it is undercooked, to little, and the brownies will be dry. I baked mine for 15 minutes and they came out just right, but cooking times can vary, so just keep checking.
When the brownies are done, remove from the oven and set out to cool. After 10 minutes, remove the brownies from the tins and set on a rack to cool completely, 1 to 2 hours.
Then lay out your decorations, and create your creatures! I used toothpicks and frosting to secure my decorations, and cut up the gum drops for smaller details. Serve the creatures on large plate on a bed of candy corn.