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    Spiced Sugar Twists

    There’s nothing like the aroma of warm spices filling the kitchen during the holidays. Sweet strands weave together in these sophisticated Spiced Sugar Twists that elevate simple flavors into eye-catching treats. Spiced Sugar Twists In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice. In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar and room […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Death by Chocolate Cake

    This Death by Chocolate Cake is the epitome of dessert luxury! Dark chocolate cake layers are filled with chocolate pudding mousse and covered in double chocolate frosting. One bite and you’ll say goodbye forever to restraint!

    It’s nice when one project inspires another. I mentioned earlier that I’ve been working on holiday content for another website. One assignment, (which you should totally check out here) led me to make classic “Death by Chocolate”. Ever heard of it? It’s a trifle assembled with layers of Kahlua-soaked dark chocolate brownies, chocolate pudding, and crushed toffee bars. After tasting it, I instantly knew those flavors were destined for an over-the-top layer cake.

    Begin with dark chocolate cake layers.
    Start with my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe. I’ve used it in so many other recipes (like this one!). It delivers everything you’d want from a chocolate cake. Such as, deep chocolate richness, a tender texture, and moist crumb. Check out the video at the end of this post to see exactly how it’s made!

    Brush on some Kahlua.
    The cakes are all brushed with undiluted Kahlua. Which may sound bold but the amount is not overwhelming. This slight amount not only compliments the dark chocolate flavor – it also intensifies it!

    2 Ingredient chocolate pudding mousse filling.
    Remember the classic trifle version I mentioned? It’s made with chocolate pudding. So I was really excited to find a shortcut recipe for chocolate pudding mousse! It just requires two ingredients: boxed chocolate pudding mix and heavy cream. That’s it! I was skeptical at first. But I was truly amazed at how two simple ingredients transform into something akin to homemade chocolate mousse.
    One thing to remember when mixing this filling together, is that it sets quickly! Have your cake layers cooled and ready to fill before you start mixing up the mousse.

    Double chocolate frosting.
    Yes, it’s twice as nice as regular chocolate frosting! Believe it or not, this recipe has a mere 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar in it. Instead of loads of sugar, it depends on melted semisweet chocolate to sweeten and thicken it. You’ll also use a little cocoa powder in the formula. Which helps give the frosting body and more chocolate flavor.

    White chocolate cream cheese frosting.
    Before I get the the white chocolate frosting, let’s talk ganache. It’s so easy to make so I couldn’t resist adding a thick drape to the top of the cake. (Another 2-ingredient fix!) Let it thicken slightly before you pour it on top of the cake. This way you’ll get the draping effect you see above.
    Use the leftover double chocolate buttercream to pipe large swirls on the top edge of the cake. Then, alternate with my homemade white chocolate cream cheese frosting for contrast in flavor and color. It’s so creamy and delicious! The formula uses a surprise ingredient – a little lemon juice – to balance the sweetness of the overall frosting. The contrast it brings to this cake is so nice, and needed. It’s an extra step but I promise it’s worth the effort.

    Chocolate cake toppings – overload!
    It looks as if I went a little overboard on the toppings. But it’s just one box of assorted Belgian chocolate cookies. I used Delacre cookies, which can be found in the international section at most US grocery stores.
    However, you could forgo all of the cookies. Just opt for the crushed toffee bars, which are original to the classic inspiration recipe. In addition to the cookies, I added them last, to the top of the finished cake.

    Death by Chocolate Cake? More like LIFE by Chocolate Cake. Because all of that chocolate is giving me life right now. I wish I could virtually dole out slices to all of you!

    I made a little banner for the cake simply by printing out ‘Death by Chocolate Cake‘ in script font and attaching it to a cocktail pick. My friends and family thought it was so cute, and I think it made everyone even more excited to try it! This cake is extremely rich, but not the sugar rush you might expect. It’s well worth the indulgence!
    This confection would be perfect for a Murder Mystery Dinner Party, which was the project that inspired this cake! Definitely check out my article on How to Throw a Murder Mystery Game Dinner Party. (And be sure to look for the trifles served in martini glasses that inspired this cake!)
    One more thing – this baking project requires several steps, which may seem like a total production. But it’s not that bad. I’ve made a video to help you along the way. Enjoy!

    Death by Chocolate Cake

    Heather Baird

    Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or surprising the chocoholic in your life with a sweet birthday treat, this cake is the ultimate way to satisfy any chocolate craving. This luscious dessert consists of four moist and rich dark chocolate cake layers, sandwiched together with a simple 2-ingredient chocolate pudding mousse. The entire cake is generously smothered in a silky double chocolate frosting that is pure chocolate bliss! Alternating swirls of double chocolate and white chocolate buttercream are piped around the cake’s top edge, and then topped with a scattering of chocolate-covered toffee bars. Take note that the chocolate cake layers bake at a reduced temperature, 300F instead of the usual 350F. This keeps the cake moist and the layers won’t crown, so there’s no leveling to do after baking.The toppings for this cake can be widely varied, but the chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars are non-negotiable, as they are original to the cake’s inspiration trifle dessert – Death by Chocolate. I used a variety of Belgian chocolate cookies, but you could tailor the toppings to your taste or to the recipient’s favorite chocolate treats.

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    Prep Time 1 hour hrCook Time 50 minutes mins40 minutes cooling and setting time 40 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Ingredients  Dark chocolate cake layersFlour-based baking spray for the pans1 1/2 cups hot water almost boiling3 tablespoons espresso powder3 oz. semisweet chocolate finely chopped about 1/2 cup2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour2 1/2 cups granulated sugar1/2 cup light brown sugar1 1/2 cups unsweet dark cocoa powder sifted2 teaspoons baking soda3/4 teaspoons baking powder1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain salt3 large eggs3/4 cup vegetable oil1 1/2 cups sour cream2 teaspoons vanilla extract2/3 cup Kahlua liqueurChocolate Pudding Mousse2 cups heavy whipping cream1 box instant chocolate pudding mix, 3.9 oz. dry mixDouble chocolate frosting¼ cup unsweet cocoa powder¼ cup boiling water1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar siftedPinch of salt12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips 2 cups melted and cooledGanache Drip1 cup semisweet chocolate chopped½ cup heavy creamWhite chocolate buttercream4 oz. cream cheese3 oz. white chocolate melted and cooled slightly1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature½ tablespoon lemon juice1/3 cup confectioners’ sugarToppings2 whole chocolate-covered toffee bars chopped (such as Heath bars)Assorted Belgian chocolate cookies optional2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles optional
    Instructions Dark chocolate cake layersPreheat oven to 300°F.Coat four 8-inch round cake pans with the flour-based baking spray. Alternatively, grease and flour the pans.Place the hot water in a large glass measure with a pour spout. Stir in the espresso powder. Add the chopped chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.Sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until they are pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate-espresso mixture. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium speed until combined.Divide the batter between the four prepared pans, about 2 cups per pan (batter will be thin). Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the middles are slightly puffed and spring back when pressed in their centers. The layers won’t crown much so you shouldn’t have to level the cakes.Let the cakes cool in the pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Poke holes in the cakes using a toothpick. Brush each cake with the Kahlua using a pastry brush. The cake layers can be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap.Chocolate pudding moussePlace the heavy cream and dry pudding mix in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture is smooth and consistent. It will thicken quickly, so have the cake layers close to hand and ready to fill. Place a cake layer on a serving platter or cake board. Cover with 1/3 of the pudding mousse. Repeat twice more, ending with the final cake layer on top. Refrigerate the cake while you prepare the other elements.Double chocolate frostingIn a small heatproof bowl, whisk together the cocoa and hot water until the cocoa is dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on high speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add the melted and cooled chocolate. Beat until well combined. Add cocoa mixture and beat until completely smooth.Cover the cake with a layer of buttercream and smooth with a bench scraper or cake leveler. Transfer the remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Refrigerate the cake while you prepare the other elements. Keep the bag of frosting at room temperature.Ganache dripCombine the chocolate and heavy cream in a large microwavable bowl. Heat for 1 minute at 100% power. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk together until the ganache is thick and smooth. Let stand until cooled and slightly thickened.Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour ½ of the ganache on the top center of the cake. Push the ganache to the edges of the cake using the back of a spoon. Pour the remaining ganache around the top edge of the cake and again, push over the edges of the cake so that thick drapes of ganache form. Refrigerate while you prepare the white chocolate buttercream.White chocolate buttercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the white chocolate and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.Add the butter and lemon juice; beat well to incorporate. Reduce speed t low and add the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until well blendedTransfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip.ToppingsPipe tall mounds of the buttercream on the top edge of the cake, alternating with the reserved piping bag of double chocolate frosting.Sprinkle on the two chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars. Add Belgian chocolate cookies and chocolate sprinkles, if using.Store the cake covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature about 2 hours before serving for best flavor and texture.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This is a supremely moist chocolate cake. The layers are tender and the flavor is dark, and the Kahlua brushed on the cakes after baking intensifies the chocolaty flavor.
    The 2 ingredient mouse filling is rich and creamy, and its firm texture makes for beautiful cake slices. Choose a brand name pudding, such as Jello brand instant pudding mix for best flavor. Dove and Godiva pudding mixes are also excellent choices for the mousse.

    Keyword Belgian chocolate cookies, chocolate cake, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate-covered toffee bars, dark chocolate cake layers, Death by Chocolate Cake, double chocolate frosting, kahlua, ulitmate chocolate layer cake, white chocolate frosting

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    Haunted Village Cake

    Introducing the Haunted Village Cake! It’s a spooktacular two-tier centerpiece for your Halloween celebration. Made of Halloween confetti cake, it’s decorated with a landscape of haunted house sugar cookies.

    Spooky season is here, and I wanted to make something extra-special for the occasion! This Haunted Village Cake is definitely a project, but it’s also really fun to put together. As I was planning the design and sketching out the specifics, it reminded me of when I was a kid – I loved drawing haunted houses! Adding all the details was so much fun, and it was really neat to think about what kind of eerie creatures lived there. So I’d fill in windows with spooky cats, bats, ghosts and monsters. I’d always draw a witch on a broom flying over the rooftop.
    This two-tiered confection is a true homage to that memory. It’s made of funfetti cake, with confetti sprinkles in Halloween hues and colorful swirls of batter hidden within. It’s decorated with frosted sugar cookie haunted houses – each one with a resident specter or spooky inhabitant!

    The cake batter.
    First, whip up a large batch of my favorite WASC cake. It takes on food color beautifully because of its pure white base – it’s also super moist and tasty! Remove one cup of batter to each of three bowls. Tint each bowl a different Halloween color. I used neon green, purple, and orange. Set these aside for a moment.

    Funfetti batter.
    Add Halloween confetti sprinkles to the remaining plain white batter. Fold it in until all the sprinkles are well dispersed throughout. You can usually find this mix at most US grocery stores and craft stores in the seasonal/baking aisle, or you can buy them in bulk (like I do!) right here.

    Swirl in some color.
    Next, divide the funfetti batter between greased cake pans. You’ll need four 8-inch round cake pans and three 6-inch pans. Place a spoonful of each colorful batter into each pan and swirl with a butter knife. Next, bake them until well puffed and a toothpick tester comes out clean when inserted in their centers.

    Level the cakes and frost.
    The cakes will puff slightly in the centers. So, level them in order to have stackable tiers. You can save the scraps for cake pops, or just eat ’em! Whip up some confectioners’ neon purple buttercream, fill and frost the cake. Use a bench scraper or cake smoother to make the edges as smooth and neat as possible. Because next, we’ll add a spooky stenciled tree motif to the sides of the cake!

    How to stencil a cake.
    I had this 6×6 tree stencil on hand from a previous cake project, and decided it would create the perfect backdrop for a haunted neighborhood. This stencil is not made for cakes specifically, but it works well enough. However, if you don’t want to buy the stencil, you could just pipe on some branches with some black or chocolate buttercream.
    Chill the cake well before applying the stencil. You’ll hold the flexible stencil against the cake with one hand, and with your dominant hand you’ll spread black buttercream over the stencil opening. Next, scrape away the excess black buttercream and carefully peel away the stencil. You need to chill between each ‘tree’ application before adding the next to set the image. Only stencil the bottom 8-inch cake tier.

    Make the haunted house cookies.
    The sugar cookie recipe is my old standby, from the Sprinkle Bakes cookbook. It’s a buttery cookie that holds its shape well during baking. Instead of buying another set of cookie cutters (my collection runneth over) I decided to make some templates – and you can too! Just print this template on some cardstock at 100% size and cut them out. Chilled, the dough handles really easily and cuts cleanly. Use your sharpest small paring knife or I recommend using a kitchen-dedicated X-acto knife to cut around the templates and into the dough. Alternatively, you can buy some haunted house cookie cutters right here and here.
    I didn’t get too fancy or complex with the frosting of these cookies, because there’s a lot going on already with the stencil. However, I did use some mini fondant cutters to make windows and doors. Cover each cookie with a different color of flood royal icing and let them dry completely. It’s up to you whether you make all of the dough into cookies, or just enough cookies to decorate the cake. However, if you’re having a Halloween party, some extra cookies on a platter near the cake will look nice!

    Chocolate wafer ghosts, bats, cats, and skeletons!
    The Halloween mold I used was purchased years ago (in 2016!) for an Etsy Journal project (see here), so of course – it is no longer available. But there are so many other cute ones for purchase now, such as this one) that will work well with this project. I may have to add them to my collection!
    Simply melt chocolate wafers, pour into the molds, and freeze them. Then pop them out and use a little royal icing to affix them to the haunted house cookies. Now, the house cookies are ready to decorate the cake!

    Tah-dah! The Haunted Village Cake! (Which is also a bit inspired by THIS Gingerbread Village Cake I made for Food Network.)

    Choose your slice.
    This cake will serve a crowd for sure, but it’s not as huge in real life as you might expect! Don’t let the double tiers intimidate you – it’s pretty easy to put together. It’s a moist cake but sturdy enough that I didn’t have to use a dowel to anchor the tiers together. However, you should totally dowel it if it has to travel.
    Each slice reveals a different swirl of colors. So party-perfect – really fun to share!

    You can serve your Haunted Village Cake in classic wedge-shaped slices, or as pictured above. Which is more like wedding cake-size slices. Cutting it this way will make the cake go further if you have a lot of people to serve. Instead of wedge-shaped pieces, you’ll cut a cake tier into 2-inch rectangles, then cut the rectangles into pieces. I wish I had a better illustration, but you can find template guide near the end of this (very long) post.
    Here’s an affiliate link to an easily shoppable picture of the cake, which has most everything I used for its creation and decoration. As I mentioned earlier, the exact candy mold is no longer available, but there are two very similar mold options at the link that I’d love to have in my collection!
    Happy Haunting!
    Related recipe: Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie

    Haunted Village Cake (Halloween Confetti Cake)

    Heather Baird

    For those ready to get their bake on this Halloween – this project is for you! It’s a two tier confetti-fied Haunted Village Cake complete with a landscape of haunted house sugar cookies. Each house has a mini specter with spooky-cute details like candy tombstones and spider sprinkles.The cookie dough recipe will make more cookies than you need to decorate the cake, however, if you’re planning Halloween party, you may choose to serve them on the side or package them for take-home favors. You may buy the cookie cutters as linked in the blog post, or use my template (see recipe notes for instructions).It’s best to make this cake over the course of 2-3 days. It spreads out the work, and gives the cookies a chance to completely set overnight.

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    Prep Time 2 hours hrsCook Time 55 minutes minsTotal Time 2 hours hrs 55 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 20

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric White confetti cake layers2 boxes white cake mix 16.25 oz. each2 cups all-purpose flour2 cups granulated sugarPinch of salt2 cups sour cream2 cups water6 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon almond extractNeon orange gel food colorNeon green gel food colorNeon purple gel food color3/4 cup confetti sprinkles in Halloween huesPurple buttercream and black stencil2 cups unsalted butter softened8 cups confectioners’ sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extractMilk or cream to thinSuper black gel food colorNeon purple gel food colorSugar cookies1 cup unsalted butter softened1 cup granulated sugar1 egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 cups all-purpose flour1 pinch saltRoyal icing and decors4 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted3 tablespoons meringue powder sifted1/4 cup water plus more for thinning1 teaspoon lemon extractSuper black gel food colorNeon orange gel food colorNeon green gel food color12 oz. white candy melts12 oz. black candy melts12 oz. orange candy melts6 oz. green candy meltsSpider sprinklesBone candies
    Instructions White confetti cake layersPreheat oven to 350°F. Coat three 6-inch round cake pans and four 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray. Set aside.Sift together the first 4 ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream, water, eggs and extracts. With the mixer running on low speed, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl down and mix again.When the batter is consistent, remove 1 cup of batter to each of 3 bowls. To one bowl add neon orange food color. Mix, and add more as needed to achieve a vibrant orange hue. Repeat the process with the neon green and purple food colors. Set the three bowls aside.To the remaining batter, fold in the confetti sprinkles. Divide the confetti batter evenly between the prepared pans, 1 cup per 6-inch pan, and about 1 1/2+ cups per 8-inch pan. Next, add spoonsful of each colorful batter to each pan and swirl the batters together with a butter knife or skewer.Bake for 25-30 minutes for the 8-inch pans, and 20-25 minutes for the 5-inch pans. – or until the cake springs back in the center when pressed. Remove the cakes from the pans to wire cooling racks. Cool completely. Level each cake using a cake leveler. (Save the cake scraps for cake pops or just eat them!)Purple buttercream and black stencilIn a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Begin on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.Add vanilla and beat again for another minute. Add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency. Beat until light and fluffy.Remove 1/2 cup of the frosting to a small bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon of super black food color and mix well. Add more food color if needed to achieve a consistent black color. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside.To the remaining bowl of frosting, add 1 tablespoon of neon purple food color. Mix well until a brilliant shade of purple is achieved. Add more food color if needed to deepen the hue.Place a dot of frosting on an 8-inch round cake board. Place an 8-inch cake layer on top. Cover with a thin layer of purple buttercream. Repeat step with the next three cake layers. Spread an even thin crumb coat layer of frosting over the cake and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth evenly using a bench scraper or cake smoother. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.Place a dot of frosting on a 6-inch cake board; top with a 6 inch cake layer. Fill and frost as previously instructed with the 8-inch tier – repeating the crumb coat layer and final smooth layer. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. Reserve any leftover buttercream in an airtight container.Stencil the cakeWhen the 8-inch tier is firm, remove it from the refrigerator. Hold the flexible stencil flat against one side of the cake with one hand, while you spread on the reserved black frosting using an offset spatula with the other hand. Scrape away the excess black frosting using a bench scraper and gently peel off the stencil to reveal the branch design. Refrigerate the cake until the stenciled area is set, about 5 minutes. Repeat the process around the rest of the cake (about 4 stenciled areas total). Store both tiers in the refrigerator uncovered while you prepare the sugar cookie decors.Sugar cookiesIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on lows peed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough clumps.Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Use haunted house motif cookie cutters to stamp shapes from the dough (or use the provided template linked in the blog post). Transfer them to the prepared pans. Use mini fondant cutters to cut out windows and doors. Chill the shapes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Re-roll scraps and repeat process.Allow all the cookies to cool completely before icing.Royal icing and decorsIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift in the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder; whisk on low speed until combined. Add the water and beat on medium-high speed until thickened and pure white. Mix in the flavoring. Scrape down the bowl and beat again. Divide the frosting into three bowls and cover them with damp paper towels. Tint one bowl with black gel food color and mix until a dark black color is achieved. Stir neon orange food color into a second bowl until a bright orange color is achieved. Tint the last bowl neon green and mix until a consistent bright green color is achieved.Mix in just drops of water at a time to each bowl and stir well, repeating this process until the icing thins to flood consistency. It should be thick and pourable like a milkshake but not too runny. Run a spatula through the icing to check; the indention should disappear by the count of 10. If it disappears more quickly, it is too thin, and you’ll need to add in additional sifted powdered sugar.Transfer the three flood frostings to disposable piping bags and close the ends with rubber bands. Prep three tall drinking glasses with a wet paper towel in the bottoms of each. Snip a small hole in the end of the black icing piping bag. Outline a cookie with the icing and then flood the center with the icing. Use a toothpick or a scribe tool to push the icing into any gaps or blank areas. Repeat with 1/3 of the cookies. Reserve the remaining black icing by folding over the snipped end and standing it upright into a glass. Repeat the process with another 1/3 of the cookies and the orange icing, then the final 1/3 of the cookies with the green icing. Let dry completely, about 4 hours or overnight.Melt each color of candy melting wafers according to the package directions. Transfer to small piping bags. Snip a hole in the ends and pipe the candy into the corresponding cavities: white candy melts for ghosts and skulls; black candy melts for bats and cats, orange candy melts for pumpkins, and green for their stems. Mix together black and white candy melts to create grey and pipe into tombstone cavities.Place the mold in the freezer and chill until solid. Gently remove candies from their cavities while they are still frozen. Repeat molding process until all of the candy is used (this makes a LOT of molded candies – plenty enough for all the sugar cookies!).When the cookies are set, use the reserved icing to adhere the molded candy to the cookies. Use ghosts and black cats to haunt windows. Place tombstones and pumpkins beside doors.Decorate the cakePlace the 8-inch tier on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread a small dot of leftover buttercream in the top center of the cake and top with the second smaller tier. (If the cake is traveling, use a long dowel to anchor the two tiers together.)Use the reserved buttercream to dot on the back of the haunted houses. Place 5 decorated house cookies, spaced evenly, around the bottom tier of the cake. Affix extra molded candy pieces around the houses. Place 5-6 decorated houses end-to-end around the edge of the top tier. Add candy bones around both tiers of the cake.Store the cake loosely covered in plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve slices of cake with accompanying haunted houses.
    NotesIf using the template provided, print on paper slightly heavier than copy paper. Or, print out on regular copy paper, cut out the houses, and trace them onto a piece of heavy card stock.
    Make sure the cookie dough is well chilled, then place the templates on top of the dough. Cut out dough shapes using a small paring knife or a kitchen dedicated X-acto knife.  

    Keyword american buttercream, confetti cake, confetti sprinkles, decorated sugar cookies, funfetti cake, Halloween cake, Halloween confetti cake, haunted house cake, Haunted Village Cake, royal icing, spider sprinkles, sprinke cake, sugar cookies

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Baking School In-Depth: Pan de Muerto

    Every year in Mexico during or Day of the Dead, the country enlivens with vivid color and festive flourish as people dress in vibrant costumes, embellish their hair with flowers, and paint their faces to resemble smiling skeletons. They gather for dancing and parades in town plazas and bake a bread that has become one […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Throw a Glam Halloween Party with Spooky Sweets and Treats

    Dazzle your guests with a Glam Halloween Party filled with dramatic décor and a spooky menu. An edible spider web croquembouche serves as an eerie table centerpiece. A coffin-shaped charcuterie board overflows with much to savor. Witchy cookie favors are a take home treat that will ensure the magic continues long after the party is over!

    Earlier this year, my friends at invited me to craft a Glam Halloween Party for their lifestyle and entertainment section, complete with festive food, décor, and more! Well. I guess you already know – I couldn’t say yes fast enough! Just thinking about all the goth and glam made my brain light up, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. We spent a big chunk of August giving one end of the workshop a makeover with all the haunted mansion vibes we could find.
    There is much inspiration, and many recipes to explore, along with crafting articles and free printables. Which I’ll link individually in this post. However, I urge you to view the entire slide show right here on There are many more links in the gallery captions to all kinds of Halloween party ideas, costumes – the works!

    The tablescape.
    No doubt about it, I’m a more is more kind of gal. So we absolutely layered this table with velvety and gilded textures, along with some pretty dramatic florals and glittering details. You can read more in the slideshow captions about where we sourced our tableware and décor – on a budget!

    A spider-infested centerpiece.
    Classic croquembouche makes a commanding centerpiece, so I decided to give this French confection a spooky makeover. It’s also a shortcut recipe that uses store-bought profiteroles from the freezer section at the grocery store. Get the recipe for Spiderweb Croquembouche RIGHT HERE.

    Halloween place card holders.
    These Skeleton Hand Place Card Holders were SO FUN to craft using foam pumpkins and skeletal swizzle sticks. They’re not hard to make and there’s a free editable template for the black floral place cards. You can find that tutorial on RIGHT HERE.

    Sparkling sweets.
    I made these Tipsy, Glitzy Chocolate-Covered Strawberries for a New Year’s treat for many years ago. But I felt they’d work perfectly as a gilded treat for this party! So here they are again. Get the recipe for Chocolate-Covered Strawberries and Champagne RIGHT HERE.

    Something to sip.
    Shimmery Scary Cherry Mocktail (or Cocktail) has a secret ingredient that makes it glitter like a magic potion. Find the recipe for Halloween Shimmering Cherry Mocktail RIGHT HERE.

    Creepy crawly wall gallery.
    How fun are these framed glittering specimens? (Honestly, I’m tempted to keep them up as dark academia décor year-round.) It’s not only easy, but thrifty, to make an entire Halloween gallery of wall art using dollar store frames, plastic bugs, and glitter. Get the step-by-step tutorial RIGHT HERE.

    A fancy favor.
    These Fancy Witch Hat Cookies with gilded bands and bat decors make a fun parting gift for guests. And they can be made far ahead of party time because they keep so well air tight. There’s also a free printable tag with a spooky-sweet message – just print and tie on (easy!). Get the recipe and tutorial RIGHT HERE.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of our party. Again, you can find all the images, recipes, how-to articles, and MUCH more RIGHT HERE on xo-h
    Related recipe: Four Easy Halloween Treats for

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    Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars

    These Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars are a delightful dessert mashup of the classic cookie and pumpkin spice bars. Baked in a 13×9 pan, this recipe makes plenty for sharing!

    This Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bar recipe is a fusion of everything I love about fall baking. It takes the classic snickerdoodle cookie, famous for its cinnamon-sugar goodness, and turns it into a quick(er) baking project with an autumn makeover. Pumpkin puree in the batter gives the bars a beautiful golden interior. Pumpkin spice added to crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping adds an extra layer of warmth and flavor. A batch comes together quickly and is baked in a 13×9 inch pan, which means there will be plenty to go around!

    Make the pumpkin batter.
    This is such an easy batter to whip up. Start with an entire cup of melted butter, both white and brown sugars, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add ground cinnamon and pumpkin spice and blend well. Add in a little fine grain salt to balance out the flavors.

    Mix in the flour and leaven.
    Next, add flour, cream of tartar, and baking powder. Mix it all up just until the batter is consistent. (I’m not even sure step photos were necessary for this, because it’s SUCH a simple recipe!)

    The finished batter should be fairly thick. I used a hand mixer, but you could easily mix this together by hand with just a spatula.

    Top with sugar and spice mixture.
    The cinnamon-sugar and pumpkin spice mixture is crucial to the snickerdoodle appeal of this dessert. It creates that wonderful crunchy top. Cover the entire surface with the mixture – it will seem like too much sugar, but it bakes up just right.

    You can serve these directly from the baking pan, or plate them if you’re having a special dinner.

    These Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars are cakey inside, but deserve to be called bars because of their tight crumb. The interior is soft and the cinnamon-sugar crunch on top is so addictive! Serve them warm with coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up. They keep well stored in an airtight container.
    Related recipe: Pecan Praline Pumpkin Torte

    Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars

    Heather Baird

    This is a quick baking project, easily made in about an hour from start to finish. A plateful makes a wonderful edible gift or just a sweet indulgence for yourself. They’re easy to make, absolutely delicious, and they capture the essence of fall in every bite.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 10 minutes minsCook Time 23 minutes minscooling time 30 minutes 30 minutes minsTotal Time 1 hour hr 3 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 18 bars

    Equipment13×9 inch baking pan
    Ingredients  Cinnamon-spice sugar coating5 tablespoons granulated sugar2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spicePumpkin snickerdoodle batter1 cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled1 cup granulated sugar1 cup light brown sugar packed2 large eggs1 tablespoon vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or other fine grain salt1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar1 teaspoon baking powder
    Instructions Cinnamon-spice sugar coatingCombine the sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl.Whisk until the ingredients are well combined; set aside.BatterPreheat the oven to 350°F.Coat a 13×9 inch baking pan with flour-based baking spray, or mist it with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper that overhangs two sides of the pan. Lightly coat the paper with cooking spray.Place the melted butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix together using a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix again until well blended.Next, add the flour, cream of tartar, and baking powder. Mix until well combined, about 1 minute.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Top with all of the cinnamon-spice sugar mixture. Use a spatula or your hand to lightly tamp the sugar down.Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs attached. The sugar coating will create a crunchy crust, along with some loose granules shifting around on top when the pan is moved. This is normal.Cool in the pan 30 minutes to serve warm, or cool completely for about 1 hour. Serve bars from the pan or transfer squares to a platter (try to keep as much loose sugar on the bars as possible). If using the parchment liner, lift the entire sheet of pumpkin bars from the pan using the overhanging parchment, then cut into squares.Serve slices warm or at room temperature. Squares reheat well in the microwave for 20 seconds. Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
    NotesThese bars can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature before serving. 

    Keyword bar recipes, brown sugar, canned pumpkin, canned pumpkin puree, fall desserts, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin snickerdoodle bars

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    Apple Sticky Buns

    Whether you’re craving a comforting fall morning breakfast or a sweet indulgence for dessert, these Apple Sticky Buns have got you covered.

    While we often associate certain ingredients and recipes with specific seasons – such as pumpkin spice for fall and eggnog for winter – some are so delicious that they deserve a place on our tables all year round. Like these Apple Sticky Buns – a warm, sweet yeast pastry that combines tart Granny Smith apples, crunchy pecans, and warm spices.
    Are they perfect right now for fall’s apple harvest? Yes, absolutely! Would I make them for a spring brunch? Also yes! I’m such a fan of this recipe, I plan to revisit it throughout the year. And since it can be prepped ahead and baked fresh the next day, it’s destined for our next family brunch.

    Start with sweet yeast dough.
    I made this on a stand mixer, but you could knead it by hand if you don’t have one. It’s pretty much your basic sweet dough recipe made with quick rising (instant) yeast. Knead the dough 7-10 minutes, either by hand or by mixer fitted with the dough hook. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled.

    Shred some apples.
    Meanwhile, break down the apples. You’ll need 4 cups, which is about 6 medium or 8 small Granny Smith apples. You can shred them on a box grater, or, like me, you can use the matchstick blade on your mandolin. You don’t even have to remove their skins – the apple peels will cook down well and the pieces are so small you won’t notice they’re there.

    Make the glaze.
    The secret in the ‘sticky’ sauce, which brings even more apple flavor, is apple juice. Combined with brown sugar, it imparts a caramel apple flavor. Put it in a pot and boil until thickened and a little syrupy. Then add another layer of flavor: butter. It’s heaven I tell ya! This sticky bun glaze uses no corn syrup, which is the usual ingredient that makes sticky buns ‘sticky’. Now, I’m not a purist. I don’t mind a little corn syrup in a recipe, but it’s nice when you can get good results without it.

    Reserve 3 tablespoons of the glaze mixture in a small condiment cup; cover and set aside. Then pour the rest of the glaze into a lined 13×9 baking pan and sprinkle with pecans. Set aside while you make the filling and assemble the buns.

    Prep the apple filling.
    Remember those 3 tablespoons of reserved glaze? It goes in the filling, too! So much good stuff in here – apple butter, cinnamon, ginger… Stir it all together until completely mixed. I used my mom’s homemade apple butter in this recipe and it was out of this world delish. No worries if you don’t have homemade – there are several good brands that are ready-made (Smucker’s Cracker Barrel).

    Assemble the apple sticky buns.
    Gently knock down the risen yeast dough and roll it to an approximate 16×12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough with the apple butter mixture, grated apples, and pecans. Leave a small border around the edges so it’s easy to roll up.

    Roll the dough up from a long end, jelly roll style. I always have a little bit of dough that isn’t completely filled on both ends so I very conservatively trim both ends of the roll – and you can too. If you do this you’ll still have plenty enough to cut out all the buns.

    Cut the roll into 12 even slices and lay the slices on top of the sauce/pecan mixture in the pan. We’re almost there!

    Allow the buns to rise until puffy and nearly filling the pan. Look how pretty! (Can unbaked sticky buns be pretty? I think so.)
    Bake them until golden brown on top, then turn them out onto a baking sheet or tray with a lip that is larger than 13×9. Definitely use a pan with an rim, edge, or a lip to catch any of the sticky sauce that runs off the pastry when it’s turned out.

    Once out of the oven, these Apple Sticky Buns are best enjoyed fresh and warm. The aroma alone will draw you in! I couldn’t resist sprinkling a pinch of Maldon flake salt on top of the sticky buns. It’s not mentioned in the recipe, but if you have some on hand you should try it!

    Serve these for a special breakfast or cap off the evening with a satisfying dessert. Believe it or not – these sticky buns aren’t overly sweet! Which makes them a versatile choice for any time of day.
    Related recipe: Giant Sticky Bun

    Apple Sticky Buns

    Heather Baird

    These Apple Sticky Buns are a delectable treat that’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Made with sweet yeast dough, spiced apple butter, grated apples, pecans, and a mouthwatering apple-brown sugar sticky glaze, they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The best part? You can prep these the day before and bake them fresh right before serving, making them a convenient option for any meal. See recipe notes for make-ahead instructions.

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    Prep Time 1 hour hrCook Time 30 minutes mins2 hours rise time 2 hours hrsTotal Time 3 hours hrs 30 minutes mins

    Course Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    EquipmentRolling Pin13×9 inch baking panparchment paperserrated knife
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Yeast dough3 cups all-purpose flour1/4 cup granulated sugar2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt3 tablespoons unsalted butter2/3 cup whole milk1 whole eggGlaze3/4 cup apple juice1 cup light brown sugar packed1/4 cup unsalted butter1 cup chopped pecansFilling1 cup apple butter commercially prepared or homemade1 tablespoon cinnamon2 teaspoons ground ginger4 cups unpeeled grated apple about 6 medium Granny Smith1 cup chopped pecans
    Instructions Yeast doughIn the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.Place the butter and milk in a small saucepan and cook until the butter melts over medium-high heat. Let cool to 110°F to 115°F. Pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg. Stir together on the lowest speed until a ragged dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead until elastic dough forms, about 7 minutes.Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn over to coat all sides of the dough. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, more or less depending on your room temperature.GlazeLine a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.Place the apple juice and brown sugar in a small nonstick saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened and a little syrupy, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Remove three tablespoons of the sauce to a small condiment cup. Pour the rest of the sauce into the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the sauce with the chopped pecans.FillingIn a medium bowl, stir together the apple butter, cinnamon and ginger.Stir in the reserved 3 tablespoons of sauce.AssemblyGently deflate the yeast dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to an approximate 16×12-inch rectangle.Spread the apple butter mixture evenly over the dough leaving about a 1/2 inch plain border around the edge. Top with the shredded apples and then the chopped pecans. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up tightly, jelly roll style. Pinch seams closed to seal. With a serrated knife conservatively trim away any unfilled overlapping dough, (usually 1/2 to 1 inch of dough) on each end of the roll.Again, using the serrated knife, cut the roll into 12 even buns. Place them on top of the sauce/pecan mixture in the prepared pan. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.Bake the buns until puffed and golden about 30-35 minutes. They should sound hollow when gently tapped. Let the buns cool in the pan 5 minutes.On a large baking sheet or serving tray with a rim, invert the buns onto the serving platter; peel away the parchment paper.Serve the buns warm. They have the best flavor and texture the same day they’re made. See recipe notes for make ahead instructions.
    NotesMake ahead: Prepare the recipe up to the second rise (buns double in the pan). Skip this final rise and cover the buns. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, allow the buns to come to room temperature. Then let the buns rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours before baking.
    Apples: Use a dry apple that’s good for baking, such as Granny Smith. You can prep them ahead of time by grating them on a box grater or a mandolin fitted with the matchstick cutter. Toss the shredded with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent browning over time. Place in a bowl and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
    Source: This recipe was adapted from Canadian Living.

    Keyword apple butter, apple sticky buns, fall brunch, fall dessert recipe, granny smith apples, instant yeast, sweet yeast dough

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    Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle

    Dive into the cozy flavors of fall with this Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle. It’s here to steal the show at your Thanksgiving feast or any autumn gathering.

    We all know and love those iconic Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. They’re nostalgic, chewy, and have that perfect hint of molasses. I’ve always thought they’d be delicious paired with pumpkin for a fall dessert. Inspiration struck when I found myself with a big box of them leftover from my Dad’s 80th birthday party. They are his favorite snack, so we gave them out to guests as favors.
    Enter the Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle. It’s a heavenly concoction that combines the beloved Oatmeal Creme Pies with pumpkin cream cheese filling, whipped cream, and caramel.

    Make the pumpkin cream cheese filling.
    In a mixing bowl, combine canned pumpkin puree, room temperature cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix it until it’s well combined and velvety smooth.

    The star of the show – Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies!
    Using a large sharp chef’s knife, quarter the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. Half of them will be placed at the bottom of a trifle bowl. This forms the foundation on which to build the whole shebang. I wondered how well the pies would stand up with so many creamy elements layered on top – but they held their shape and provided a nice, chewy/cakey bite. They are just perfect in this trifle!
    After you’ve quartered the pies, whip 1 cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks. To shortcut this recipe, you could use an 8 oz. tub of frozen whipped topping, but the homemade whipped cream really makes a difference in flavor.

    Layer the ingredients.
    This trifle has 8 layers total. First, layer in half of the Oatmeal Creme Pies, then top with half of the pumpkin cream cheese filling. Next, top with half of the whipped cream and spread to the edges. Then, a layer of prepared caramel goes on top. Lately I’ve been loving Torani prepared caramel which can be found in the coffee aisle at the grocery store with the flavored syrups. It’s surprisingly good for something store-bought! However, you could also use Smucker’s hot caramel topping, which is widely available and found with the ice cream toppings (just microwave it for 30 seconds so it loosens). Or, use homemade if you have it.

    Repeat the layers – oatmeal pies, pumpkin cream cheese, whipped cream, and…

    .. more caramel! The best part about this Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle is that it’s incredibly easy to make and assemble. You don’t need to be a baking expert to whip up this fall masterpiece.

    Finish with flair.
    Crumble one Oatmeal Creme Pie and sprinkle it over the whipped cream and caramel. Make sure you don’t crumble it too fine – you want a few larger pieces that are identifiable as Oatmeal Creme Pies.

    This trifle takes a nostalgic childhood treat to a whole new level. It’s like a taste of fall in every spoonful, with the warm and comforting flavors of pumpkin spice and oats. What’s better? You can make it a couple of days ahead!

    Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle is the perfect alternative to traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. It’s easy to assemble, looks stunning in a trifle bowl, and the flavors are (*chef’s kiss*) an autumnal dream come true.
    Related recipe: Sour Cream Pumpkin Muffins with Coffee Glaze

    Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pie Trifle

    This no-bake trifle is ready to steal the show at your Thanksgiving feast or any fall gathering. It’s a dessert that combines the nostalgia of childhood treats with the warmth of autumn flavors. It’s as easy to make as it is to devour.Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies can be found at nearly any US grocery store in the cookies and snacks aisle. You’ll need an entire box of 12 for this recipe.

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    Prep Time 25 minutes minsTotal Time 25 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 14

    EquipmentTrifle bowlHand mixer
    Ingredients  16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature3/4 cup granulated sugar15 oz. pumpkin puree 1 can1 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice2 teaspoons vanilla extract12 Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème pies 1 box1 cup heavy whipping cream beaten to stiff peaks1 cup prepared caramel sauce such as Torani
    Instructions In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract. Beat well until combined and no streaks of cream cheese remain. Set aside.Set one oatmeal pie aside for later use. Using a large chef’s knife, quarter the remaining pies. Layer half of the pies into the bottom of a 3 to 4 quart capacity trifle bowl.Top the pie pieces with half of the pumpkin cream cheese mixture. Spread to the edges of the bowl.Top the pumpkin mixture with half of the whipped cream. Spread evenly to the edges of the bowl.Spoon or drizzle half of the caramel over the top of the whipped cream layer.Repeat the layering with the remaining pie pieces, pumpkin cream cheese mixture, whipped cream, and caramel sauce.Crumble/tear apart the remaining Oatmeal Crème Pie and place it on the top center of the trifle.The trifle can be served immediately, or you can make it 2 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.
    NotesLittle Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies come in two sizes – you can use either size. The standard size comes in a box of 12 and is carried at most grocery stores. If you find the larger pies (packaged for resale in vending machines) you’ll need 9 for this recipe.
    To shortcut this recipe, you could use an 8 oz. tub of frozen whipped topping, but the homemade whipped cream really makes a difference in flavor. The finished dessert will be sweeter using the whipped topping, because it is presweetened. The homemade whipped cream has no sugar added and relies on the caramel to deliver sweetness. 

    Keyword canned pumpkin puree, cream cheese, fall desserts, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin trifle

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