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Halloween Party Luminaries – Free Printable

I’m actually not throwing a Halloween party. Every year, I say I’m going to throw a party, then every year something keeps me from doing it. This year, a couple of friends of mine are actually having a party that promises to be way more epic than anything I could throw together. Maybe next year?

So I basically designed this project for my imaginary party. But hey, are you throwing a party? Because if you are, I’d be thrilled if you used this idea.

I’m not actually going to do a step by step tutorial for this project, since it’s kind of a no-brainer. (Does that count as a pun?)

Basically, all you need to do is cut along the dotted lines on the printable, and glue or tape each insert into a 3-3/4″ square hole in a standard paper lunch bag. Well, my bags measure 5-1/8″ x 3-1/8″ x 10-5/8″, so I’m assuming that that’s a standard size. Anyway, place each square hole 1-3/4″ from the bottom of the bag. You want the placement to be pretty low so you get a lot of flicker behind the insert.

I used calligraphy paper to print my inserts onto, but any light colored paper would work. I bet this would be really cool printed on vellum. If you try that, please let me know how it comes out.

The last step is to put a little sand or rocks in the bottom of each bag, and add a candle. I used battery operated candles so I didn’t have to worry about them burning my house down. Obviously, if you’re using real flame candles, you don’t want to close the top of each bag. And if you burn your house down, don’t blame me.

OK, so here’s the printable. I really hope you enjoy, and have an awesome Halloween!

Click the Image Below to Download the Free Printable

Click the image to download

P.S. I’m sure you’ve figured this out, because you’re so smart, but you can use this printable for lots of things. Make the bags and use them as goodie bags, or paint the bags bright colors and use them to decorate a Dia de los Muertos altar. Use your imagination! Oh, and if you want to share this printable, please credit me. Thanks and Happy Halloween!

Special thanks to http://falln-brushes.deviantart.com for use of the amazing smoke brushes!

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Maple Ginger Cookie Sandwiches

I almost called this post “How to Cheat at Dessert,” since that’s really what this recipe is all about.  A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I hosted a baby shower for his (very pregnant) sister.  At the last minute, I decided I needed another dessert besides the cupcakes I was making.  And the cookie frosting sandwich was born.

Now, I’m certainly not saying I invented putting frosting between two cookies, but I can’t remember ever seeing this before.  What’s important is that this technique really helped me out in a pinch.  And when, sooner or later, you need a last minute dessert, it just might save you as well.  Anyway, let’s get cooking frosting.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk (see notes at the end of this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 one pound bag ginger snaps (I like Murray’s, but any cheap ones will do)

1.  Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream together the fats.

2.  Sift in about 1/2 a cup of confectioner’s sugar, add a splash of milk, and beat to combine.  Repeat until all the sugar and milk have been incorporated (this should take less than five minutes).

3.  Add maple extract and beat until fluffy (about two more minutes).  If frosting looks a little too soft, beat in up to another 1/4 cup powdered sugar.

4.  Fit a pastry bag with a large star-shaped pastry tip and fill the bag with frosting.

5.  Place one cookie upside-down on a clean working surface, and pipe a circle of frosting close to the edge of the cookie.  Don’t worry about filling the circle in — there will be enough frosting without it.  Place another cookie right-side-up on the frosting, and press gently.

6.  Repeat until you run out of frosting or cookies (they should run out at roughly the same time).  Now place your cookies in the refrigerator.  For how long?  Well, that’s up to you.  If you have a couple of hours, that’s better.  That way the cookies will soften a little, making them slightly easier to eat.  But by all means, you can eat these right away.

Some notes about this project

  • Make sure you use cheap cookies.  Expensive, gourmet cookies somehow don’t work as well.  Neither do homemade cookies.  The cheaper the better for this project.  You could probably even use canned vanilla frosting with maple extract mixed in.  I haven’t tried it, but if you do, let me know if it worked.
  • My maple extract had a really dark brown color.  If yours doesn’t, throw a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder into your powdered sugar when mixing.  That’ll give your frosting a nice maple-y color.
  • It is imperative that you use a fancy piping tip for these cookies.  Otherwise, they’ll look rushed and sloppy.  Since this recipe is so simple, it’s worth getting out that pastry bag!  Oh, and I got my bag and tips from Bake it Pretty.  I would HIGHLY recommend this kit.  (Full disclosure:  I used to work for BIP, but I don’t any more.)
  • These cookies are a little messy to eat.  The longer they are refrigerated, the less messy they get.  If you want, you can even freeze them for an hour or so and serve them frozen or partially thawed.  What I’m saying is that this recipe is pretty versatile.
  • I don’t consume dairy, which is why this recipe calls for soy milk.  You can definitely also use almond milk, rice milk, or even canned coconut milk.  I’ve tried it with all of them, and they all work well.  If you want to use cow’s milk for this recipe, I’m not gonna stop you.

Those may or may not be the actual crumbs from an actual cookie sandwich I ate during this photo shoot.  They’re just so tiny and irresistible!

As always, if you make these, let me know how they turned out.  Or if you have questions about this recipe (or any other recipe or project you see here) let me know.

You can leave a comment on this blog post, email me at info@papertuesday.com, or find us on facebook or twitter.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Empty Pantry Chocolate Cake

Around my house, you can pretty much count on a couple of things:

#1.  There are always baked goods on the counter.

#2.  I am almost always out of some major ingredient.

This combination leads to a lot of improvising in the kitchen.  Which is why I tend to really lean on recipes like this one, since it doesn’t require much in the way of supplies.  And it comes together in no time, which is a total plus in my book.

This recipe is actually a riff on Wacky Cakes, which are desserts people used to make during the Great Depression, when ingredients like eggs, milk, and butter were in short supply.  If you have some very basic kitchen staples hanging around, you can make this cake.

Empty Pantry Chocolate Cake

You’ll Need:

  • 1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (I like Dutch Process for this recipe, but whatever you’ve got is fine)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • Frosting of your choice

1.  Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease some sort of pan(s).  For this recipe, I used four 4″ round cake pans.  But I’m just showing off.  If you’re a normal person, you can use one 9″ cake pan, or a muffin tin, or try two clean coffee cans.  The coffee cans will give you cakes similar in size to mine, and you have the added benefit of exhibiting some super Depression-era realness.

2.  Make your batter while your oven is heating up.  In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa powder.  Whisk the mixture (with an actual whisk) until the color looks evenly grayish brown all the way through.  This is the hardest part of the recipe.  It’s not hard, the rest of the recipe is just really easy.  Into the dry ingredients bowl, pour the remaining ingredients.  Use that whisk again to get it all good and mixed.  Don’t worry about over-beating, this recipe is totally forgiving.

3.  Pour the prepared batter into your prepared pan(s).  As a rule of thumb, never fill any cake pan more than 2/3 of the way full.  Usually 1/4 cup measuring cup fills each hole of a standard muffin tin nicely.  If you’re using coffee cans (good for you!) only fill them about half way up.  You can bake any left over batter into a regular cake pan.

5.  Bake until done.   For a 9″ pan, or two coffee cans, that will be about 30 minutes.  For cupcakes, it’ll be closer to 18 minutes.  It’s better to check them too often than to let them burn.  Cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

6.  Put the cake into the freezer after five minutes.  That’s right, put the cake (still in the pan) into the freezer.  We’re not going to freeze it, just cool it off a little.  Remember, the pan is hot and it’ll melt stuff, so keep that in mind.  Now make your frosting.  When the frosting is done, your cake should be nice and cool (we’re aiming for somewhere around room temperature here).

7.  Cut into layers.  Cut the rounded top of the cake off to make it as flat as possible.  Now cut it into as many layers as you want, and put a nice layer of frosting in between each layer.  This whole thing only takes a minute, and it looks way more impressive than a single layer.  I promise it’s worth it.

Some notes on this recipe:

You can improvise like crazy with this thing. 

  • If you want to sub some milk (regular, almond, coconut, whatever) for the water, that’s totally fine. (Try brewed coffee, too.  It’s delicious.)
  • If you want to use lemon juice or fancy vinegar instead of white vinegar, go ahead.
  • One of my favorite variations on this recipe is to sub balsamic for the white vinegar and olive oil for the canola.  It feels so fancy.
  • Try using fruit preserves in between some of the layers, and whipped cream in between the others.  It’s divine.

If you make this cake (or some variation of it) I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below.

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