Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Bewitching Party . . .

All images courtesy: Martha Stewart

How much fun would it be to have a Slytherin-inspired Halloween party? Everything in green, black, and silver, and covered with snakes, while all your friends show off their Harry Potter finery. Well, in this month's Martha Stewart Living, she features a party idea that is just perfect for all the Malfoy's, Lestranges, and Riddles out there;)

I love the idea of choosing a limited color palette, and fitting everything into it. In this case, food like green beans and green curried potato soup mixes with sour apple green punch and cocktails. The lanterns are fabulous too; for instructions and templates, go to her how-to page. Throw some rubber snakes and frogs across the table, and you have a perfect setting for any Dark Arts soiree.

The crates are kind of genius; just cheap wooden crates painted and stenciled, used to great effect here. The pumpkins are a little more advanced; Martha uses stencil carving tools on them. She even sells a pumpkin carving kit at Macy's, but for those of us wanting a little easier time of it, the designs on these pumpkins can be converted quickly to simpler images.

Okay, I don't know too manyt people (besides Martha) who would go through the trouble of sending invitations in glass jars, but they do look pretty cool;)

This ganache-covered cheesecake looks pretty yummy, and the design on the top comes from a stencil and powdered food coloring.

Makes one 10-inch cake; Serves 10 to 12
· 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
· 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
· 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
· 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
· 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
· 1 large egg yolk
· 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
· 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
· 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoonsunsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
· 2 pounds plus 10 ounces cream cheese, softened (from six 8-ounce blocks)
· 3/4 cup sour cream
· 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
· 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), melted and cooled slightly
· Boiling water, for pan
· 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao)
· 1 tablespoon corn syrup
· 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
· Snake stencil
· Green and red powdered food coloring (
1. Make the crust: Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in yolk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and mix in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press dough evenly into bottom of a 10-inch springform pan to form a 1/4-inch-thick crust. Let chill in freezer for 15 minutes. Bake until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Leave oven on.
3. Make the filling: Whisk together granulated sugar, flour, and cocoa powder. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, scraping down sides as needed, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add the sugar mixture, and mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, mixing just to combine after each addition. Add chocolate, and mix until combined.
4. Wrap exterior of springform pan with a double layer of foil. Pour filling onto prepared crust, and set springform pan in a large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until set but slightly wobbly in the center, about 30 minutes more. Turn oven off; leave cake in oven with door ajar for 1 hour.
6. Transfer springform pan to a wire rack, remove foil, and let cake cool completely. Run an offset spatula or a knife around edge of cake, and carefully unmold. Set cake on wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
7. Make the glaze: Combine chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (Do not whisk too much or bubbles will form). Let cool for 10 minutes.
8. Decorate the cake: Pour glaze over cake in a circular motion, starting at the center and slowly moving outward toward the edge, to cover entire surface. Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, at least 4 hours (or overnight). Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
9. Set snake stencil on cake: Print template. Place it under a sheet of calendar vinyl. Use a permanent marker to trace the outline and the snake design onto vinyl. Working on a cutting mat, use a craft knife to cut along the lines. Work slowly and carefully. The vinyl will dull the knife's blade; change the blade as necessary. Sift green powdered food coloring over snake, avoiding the tongue, Carefully sift red powdered food coloring over tongue.

These favors are pretty cute; little wooden boxes painted with diluted green paint to give them a weathered look, then filled with green jelly beans and labels fixed on top. Get the how-to and label template here.
This really makes me want to throw a party this year . . . sigh . . .