Gand is known for her mastery of curious confections of all shapes and sizes. At her restaurant, TRU, in Chicago, which she co-owns with her husband, the pastry kitchen is her own personal castle.
The award-winning chef summoned from the dark fog and haze ghoulish goodies for adults and children alike such as BOO!scotti and Scarecrow Cookies; Chocolate Pudding Graveyard in a Cup; Deep Chocolate Shortbread Coffins; Frankenstein's Cups 'O Jello; Spider Cupcakes; and Taffy Lady Apples.
Makes about 20 cookies
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 11/2 cups blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or thawed orange juice concentrate
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
candy corn, licorice buttons, chocolate chips, raisins, sprinkles, and colored sugar, for decorating
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a large sheet pan.
Sift the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together into a large bowl. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a food processor. Add the 1/3 cup of toasted almonds to the food processor and pulse until fine and powdery, about 45 seconds. Return this mixture to the dry ingredients, stir in the whole almonds, and mix.
Whisk the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, Grand Marnier and orange zest together. Stir into the dry ingredients. The dough may seem dry, but it will moisten as you stir. Mix until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times just to bring the dough together. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Wet your hands and use them to shape each piece of dough into a flattened log about 8-inches long, 3-inches wide and 1-inch high.
Transfer the logs to the pan, leaving at least 3 inches between the logs (they will spread during baking). Bake until light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes to ensure even baking.
Let cool 15 minutes on the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Wipe off the pan and butter it again.
Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices, discarding the ends. Arrange the slices on the sheet pan cut side up. Bake until toasted, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door open, and let cool completely in the oven.
Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler (or in a bowl) set over hot (not boiling or simmering) water, slowly melt the white chocolate, stirring often. Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper and transfer the melted white chocolate to a small bowl.
Dip 2-inches of the end of each cookie into the white chocolate and turn chocolate side up so that the chocolate drips unevenly down the cookie. The chocolate-covered end of the biscotti is its head; the uneven edge is the bottom edge of the ghost's "sheet." Lay them on the wax paper as they are dipped.
While the chocolate is still warm, decorate the chocolate-covered ends with little ghost faces, using small candies, licorice, candy corn, chocolate chips, raisins, or sprinkles (see photograph). If necessary, snip the candies to make them smaller. Sprinkle orange, yellow, or black sugar on the top edges of the biscotti for hair or all over the ghost's face. Let cool on wire racks until set. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 4 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups Splenda Granular
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup M & M Candies
1/2 cup candy corn
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the butter, Splenda granular, brown sugar and vanilla in a medium-mixing bowl. Mix, using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, until the mixture is light and creamy (approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add peanut butter and stir until well mixed. Add chocolate and mix briefly.
Roll cookie dough into 48 balls using approximately 1 tablespoon dough per ball. Place balls on an ungreased cookie pan. Flatten the tops with a drinking glass then place 2 M & M's for eyes and a piece of candy corn in the center for a nose.
Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven 10 to 15 minutes.
Chocolate Pudding Graveyard In A Cup
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8th teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
3 cups half and half
3 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 package chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
1 bag Milano cookies
1 tube black icing
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt.
Whisk in the milk until smooth and then whisk in the half and half. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat whisking constantly and bring to a boil. Gently boil for 2 minutes while whisking to thoroughly cook the cornstarch. Turn off the heat and whisk in the bitter sweet chocolate and vanilla. Pour into dessert cups or clear glass or plastic cups.
Sprinkle the surface of the pudding with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs to look like dirt. Chill till ready to serve. Using black icing write R.I.P on the top half of Milano Cookies. Just before serving insert the cookies to look like gravestones.
Deep Chocolate Shortbread Coffins
Makes 24 cookies Preparation Time: 15 min.
Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda Granular
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup amd 2 tablespoon flour
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff
Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Line a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the butter, Splenda, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-mixing bowl. Mix, using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until the mixture is light and creamy (approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes).
Add cocoa powder and flour. Mix until just blended.
Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Place the ball of dough on the parchment-lined pan. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Pierce the surface of the dough with a fork all over. This allows the air to escape during baking preventing air pockets from forming.
Bake in preheated 375 degree F oven 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes of baking. Remove shortbread from oven after 20 to 25 minutes and immediately cut into 24 coffin-shaped "fingers" or rectangles while the shortbread is still warm. If allowed to cool, shortbread will not slice well.
Sandwich 2 cookies together with marshmallow fluff and serve on a platter.
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
Yield: 24 servings
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup plain yogurt or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
flat chocolate buttons
tube white frosting
tube black frosting
tube red frosting
black spaghetti licorice
Sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside. In a mixer with a whip attachment cream the butter till light and fluffy then add the sugar and continue mixing to cream them together. Add the eggs gradually and let them thoroughly mix in. Then add the melted unsweetened chocolate and mix in well. Add the vanilla and 1/3 of the liquid and mix, then add half the dry ingredients and mix in well. Repeat alternating wet and dry ending with wet.
Pour batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake papers filling them 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees F until firm to the touch on the cap of the cupcakes, 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then decorate.
To make the cupcakes into spiders, glue two of the flat chocolate buttons on the top of the cupcake as eyes. Pipe a large white dot on, then stick on the chocolate chips, then pipe a tiny white dot on the tip of the chip. In red, pipe a smile and to make them tarantulas; pipe a red hourglass shape on its back. Cut black licorice into 3-inch-long pieces and tuck 8 of them into the rim of the cupcake cap to make legs.
To serve the cupcakes, with black frosting pipe a spider web onto a middle of a large white plate and place the spiders around the edge.
Frankenstein's Cups O' Green Slime
1 package green Jell-O
24 gummy worms
8 4-ounce ball jars
Prepare the Jell-O according to the directions and pour into small ball jars. Place in the refrigerator to chill and start to set. Once they start to set, insert 3 worms per jar letting some hang over the rim of the jars. Continue to chill till completely set.
Taffy Lady Apples
12 pointed wooden skewers, about 12 lady apples
6 inches long 1 1/4 cups sugar
a large cookie sheet, well greased or lined with nonstick baking mats
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons heavy cream
warmed 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
Twist the stems of the lady apples until they pull free. Stick the skewers into the stem ends of the apples so that each apple can stand upright.
Make the caramel: Pour the sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour 1/3 cup water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring until the mixture is amber-caramel in color, 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in the butter. Slowly stir in the cream (it will bubble up). Let the caramel cool slightly.
Holding them by the skewers, dip each apple almost all the way into the caramel, swirling to coat. If using, spread the chopped peanuts on a plate and roll the bottom half of each apple in the peanuts to coat lightly. Rest them on the cookie sheet with the skewers pointing up. Serve on the skewers, like lollipops.