Friday, October 28, 2016

Buried in a Bog Cheesecake for #Halloween

Ah, that lovely season when the dead rise again! You probably know of my fondness for graveyards, not to mention my obsession with my dear departed ancestors (“You have how many names in your family tree?” Actually, as of this week it’s 13,165, not including the Irish side.)

But sometimes it’s hard to find appropriate recipes for Halloween. In the past I’ve offered you black pasta (hand-imported from Italy!) and black garlic, and even spider cookies crawling out of a pumpkin one year. This year I realized I had overlooked one very obvious choice: the bog dead!

A few years ago my daughter gave me a set of skull baking molds (she knows me well). But I seldom feel the urge to make skull muffins or cupcakes. What else could I do . . .  And then I had this idea for skulls emerging from a pool of peat (aka a bog). Don’t worry: the skulls are shortbread, and the peat is dark chocolate cheesecake.

(If you’re faint of heart, you could make pumpkin cookies instead and scatter them over the nice field of cheesecake earth.)

The Skulls:

I used the basic shortbread recipe from my post last week and pressed the dough into the molds, filling them only part way (you could also use sugar-cookie dough). Then I baked them. It’s all right if they brown a little—a skull marinating in peat for a few centuries should be a bit discolored.

The Crust:

This will not show, but you will need it if you plan to eat this concoction (silly question) This recipe fits a 9-inch pan, but I doubled it for a 9x13” pan (I wanted to fit more skulls in).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan with cooking spray.

9 oz. chocolate wafer cookies (crunchy ones, not chewy ones)
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted

In a food processor, grind the cookies to fine crumbs, then blend in the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and blend. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set (about 10 minutes), then cool.

The Cheesecake:

I searched through recipes and picked the deepest, darkest one I could find.

12 oz. (2 bags) bittersweet chocolate (if bars, chop)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs

Melt the chocolate (microwave works well, or in a double boiler—slowly!), stirring steadily until the chocolate is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together (no lumps!). In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add the sugar/cocoa powder mixture. Beat well, scraping down the bowl. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Finally mix in the lukewarm chocolate and stir.

Let me tell you, this stuff is delicious! I was tempted to eat it straight from the bowl.

Building your Bog:

Take your pan with the cookie layer and arrange the skulls on that—you can use as many as you want, and distribute them in whatever pattern pleases you—all lined up or randomly.

Pour in the filling carefully around the skulls. Actually, I had to use a pastry bag—the batter was a bit too thick to pour. But this is supposed to be peat, so it doesn’t have to be tidy. The layer doesn’t have to be too deep—you want the skulls to look like they’re emerging from the murk, ever so slowly. If you’re feeling creative, you can sprinkle some left-over crumbs around the skull to make the bog look more authentic.

This is a very large peat bog in Shannonbridge,
Ireland. It provides fuel for a nearby electric
generating station.  I had to stop and check it out.

Bake until the center is just set (that is, still a little wiggly), rotating the pan in the oven once during cooking. The exact timing will depend on how large your pan is and how deep the cheesecake layer is. Start checking after 30-40 minutes. It’s  not the end of the world if it’s baked a bit too long—the cheesecake will be more brownie-like in texture rather than creamy, but it will still taste good.

If you’re really into it, go wild with more decorations—maybe black sprinkles or some hints of green (bogs are growing things, you know). I did draw the line at adding a few (clean) chicken wing bones for effect, though. Maybe it would look good if you served it in the light of flickering candles.

Refrigerate your bog cheesecake overnight before you try to cut it (if you can wait that long!).
Savor it after the manic sugar-fueled trick-or-treaters have retreated for the night.

Oh, and a giveaway bonus: a pumpkin that will last more than a couple of weeks (It's cloth.)

And if you've never read Buried in a Bog (the first book of my County Cork Mystery Series), I'll throw that in too.

Here's a picture of the bog it's based on:

My great-great-grandfather's bog down the hill
from Knockskagh in West Cork. The peat is
under the brown grass.
Just leave a spooky comment and I'll draw one name for the pumpkin (hmm, I could draw a name out of a pumpkin . . .)


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wicked Witchy Finger cookies #Halloween Week #cozy author Linda Wiken

How about a tasty treat for those staying at home on October 31st. They'll needed added energy to open the door for all those ghosts and goblins on Halloween.

These Wicked Witchy Finger cookies are so fast and easy to make. And, you can get as creative as you want with the decorations.

I've kept my scary tendencies to a minimum and opted for bloodied fingernails (aka blanched almonds with red food gel). Okay, I did add a few drops of "blood" elsewhere, too.

This recipe, which is adapted from the site, is made with spelt flour and I've also gone with free-flowing golden brown sugar and baking soda, instead of baking powder.

The result is a cookie that's just sugary enough to sweeten up those witches that may be lurking in your front hall. And, as with any creative baked good, the shape is up to you!

Here's what you need:

1 3/4 c. spelt flour                                   1/2 butter, melted
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed                     1/2  tsp. salt
1 egg                                                        enough blanched almonds to ensure all fingers have nails
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring                            small tube of red decorating gel
1 tsp. baking soda

Here's what you do:

Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer, thoroughly blend the brown sugar, egg, butter, and vanilla flavoring in one small mixing bowl.

In a larger mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda together.

Add the butter mixture to the flour one, stirring until the texture is pliable and easily shaped into fingers.

Place your creations on the baking sheet, add the blanched almonds and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how thick the fingers are.

When done, remove and place on a rack to cool. Then paint the almond nails with the red gel.

The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is now available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book. Recipes included!

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#Halloween Chocolate Caramel Apple Slices + book OR tote bag #giveaway from author @DarylWoodGerber


From Daryl aka Avery:

Halloween is so much fun. I love the decorations - even the gory ones - and I love seeing kids in their costumes. I also love many of the foods that people bring out during this time. Orange-toned foods. Chili. Cider.

I love buying a bag of candy at the store, putting it in the freezer, and not sharing it with anyone. Usually Milky Way, truth be told. They're great frozen!

I also love to surf Pinterest, as I've said in the past. There are so many clever decorating ideas. I found many of the colorful ideas I included into STIRRING THE PLOT, the Halloween-themed Cookbook Nook Mystery, on Pinterest.

I also find photos on Pinterest of goodies that I know I have to learn how to make. I found these apple slices on Pinterest and followed the link to the blog: Domestically Blissful.

As the blog will reveal, these treats took a bit of experimentation, but they were so much fun and the kids loved them!

I have to admit her caramel looked a LOT MORE ORANGE than my caramel. Might just be the choice of caramel. 


I’ve decided that these Chocolate Caramel Apple Slices – I start my recipe title with chocolate because let’s face it, they are mostly chocolate! -  are the easiest way to enjoy this special fall dessert! Plus they make great party treats.

From Domestically Blissful, here are 5 suggestions to help ensure perfect Apple Slices, though I have tweaked them to show what I learned or did differently.

  • Cut thick apple slices so the stick stays secure. Approximately 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick works great. 
  • Make sure to pat down the apples to soak up any extra apple juice. 
  • Allow some of the melted chocolate to drip onto the stick. This will act as a sort of edible glue that holds the stick and apple together.
  • Don’t drizzle caramel on your slices until chocolate is set.
  • Domestically Blissful also wrote: "I recommend that you make them and eat them in the same day. The longer they sit the greater the chance for a weeping caramel apple slice, which will cause the yummy coating to break or slide off in some areas."  HOWEVER, I, Daryl, didn’t have this problem as I kept them refrigerated until ready to eat. 2 FULL DAYS. The kids ate every bite! Nothing hit the floor!


            Apples – make sure they are crisp – each makes 3-4 slices
            White or Wooden Lollipop Sticks
            Melting Chocolate (*1 used Wilton’s; purchased at Michael’s Art Store)
              Caramel ( I used Smucker’s caramel topping; I might melt Kraft caramels in future)
           Toppings – optional ( I used crushed cashews)


First wash & slice your apples, remove the seeds, insert the stick at the bottom, and pat the apple slices dry.  (I didn’t remove the seeds, figuring I wouldn’t eat to the core of this treat.)

Cover each apple slice in melted chocolate and place on a piece of wax paper to dry.  Here's how I did it: I painted the chocolate on with a spoon. I did one side, let it harden, and then flipped the slices (setting them on parchment paper) and painted the other and the edges of the apples.

Let harden.

Then drizzle the caramel and press other toppings on top of your apple slices. 

Let harden and set in refrigerator for up to two days.

One slice is enough for any dessert eater!

Halloween Giveaway!

It’s Halloween week so I’m giving away 
OR a Savor the Mystery tote bag
one winner’s choice!

Leave your email so I can contact you if you win. 

Tell me - what's the spookiest decoration you have seen this season?

Savor the mystery!
Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Follow both of us on Pinterest
Plus check out my website.

GRILLING THE SUBJECT, the 5th Cookbook Nook Mystery, is out!
The Wild West Extravaganza has come to Crystal Cove.
Click here to order.

FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery is out!
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
Click to order.

GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense is out!
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, 
Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free? 
Click to order