Fall Baking Guide


Severed Finger Cookies

Maxwell Pearson, Online Layout Editor

The fall season is upon us and so is the constant intake of desserts and treats that comes with this time of year. With Halloween and Thanksgiving, our appetites are met with seasonal flavors and comforting classics that will warm you from the inside out. This guide will equip you with all of the necessary tips and recipe ideas to keep your bellies full and warm on a cold and nippy day.

The first essential component to baking in the fall is the mastery of fall flavors. Grandmothers and commercial restaurants alike are incorporating these flavors and spices in order to “fall-ify” their sweets. If you are looking for a crowd pleaser and an autumn classic, pumpkin is the obvious option. Hearty baked goods like muffins, cakes, and pie all play along very nicely with pumpkin. 

A personal favorite of mine would be a swiss roll with a pumpkin cinnamon chiffon cake spiraled around cream cheese frosting. A helpful tip to make this delicious sponge cake would be to resist the temptation to make your pumpkin desserts totally homemade by making a pumpkin puree from scratch. The canned puree  is a perfected and universal texture that has a sweetness that goes with any dessert beautifully. 

If you are not fond of the flavors of pumpkin, apple is the way to go. With the fall season comes a bountiful array of options on all areas of the apple spectrum: Honeycrisp, Gala, Fiji, Granny Smith, Macintosh, Red Delicious, just to name a few. When picking apples for a dessert you want to consider two things: sweetness and texture. Some are more tart, like Granny Smith while others are more sweet, like honeycrisp, so be aware of your added sugar in your dessert. And some apples that are more crisp and crunchy handle heat better like Granny Smith. 

If you want, you can cook down skinned apple slices for several hours in the slow cooker with brown sugar and spices and then puree it for a homemade applesauce. If you keep cooking the puree for a few more hours, you wind up with apple butter that can be spread on bagels, toast, stirred in oatmeal, or spread on roasted pork loin. If you want a belly-warming beverage to serve on a cold day, take store bought apple cider and add cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, and brown sugar and cook it on the stovetop until warm for mulled apple cider. 

Maple is another great fall ingredient that makes desserts sweet, sticky, and adds great flavor to any dessert. Maple is also a healthier alternative to sugar that can replace it in many recipes including adding it to your coffee for a maple latte. When making a dessert, you can not go wrong with caramel to top pies, ice cream, or swirl into whipped cream for the best of both worlds. 

When picking spices to put in your fall desserts, cinnamon is the front runner. It goes well with almost anything and doesn’t overpower. Cardamom and nutmeg are also warm and comforting but a little more strong so use carefully. Pumpkin pie spice is a great option because it is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves so you don’t have to mix them together yourself. 

Now that Halloween is here, the candy jars are full of chocolate bars, gummies, and candy and you don’t know what to do with the leftovers from trick-or-treating. You can chop up any of the candies with chocolate and mix them into cookie dough or brownie batter to make them extra indulgent. Or you can sprinkle them onto melted chocolate that has been spread out on a sheet pan. When the chocolate cools, break them into shards for halloween candy bark. If you want a crowd pleaser for a party, melt lots of chopped chocolate candies and add about a cup of heavy cream into a fondue pot. Once the fondue is melted, get a platter with skewers and any assortment of dunkable vessels for the chocolate such as pretzels, marshmallows, bananas, or pound cake bites.

To throw a successful Halloween party, you have to have satisfying treats with a scare factor. To add creepy spiderwebs to your baked goods such as brownies, melt some mini marshmallows in the microwave until melted. Then, using disposable gloves, stretch the melted marshmallow in between your hands and place the strands on your dessert to give it a cobweb effect. To add to the spider web theme, lay 8 pretzel sticks in a circle with one end on each poking outwards. Then drizzle melted white chocolate in a circular motion, making with each pretzel, spirling outwards. To make drizzling easier, put the chocolate in a ziploc bag with a hole cut in one corner. While the chocolate is still soft, decorate with sprinkles, candy, or whatever you like. Stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden. To add an extra terrifying dessert to your spread, severed finger cookies are sure to surprise. Make a basic sugar cookie recipe and then take a ball of dough the size of a grape in your hand. Shape the dough into the form of a finger with a tapered end and a craggly end. Using a prong on a fork, press indentations into the middle section of the finger for the creases in the knuckle. Place a sliced almond onto the tapered end for a finger nail and then bake according to the cookie recipe. When the cookies are cool, dip the craggly end into warmed strawberry or raspberry jelly to make them bloody. Although these desserts may look disgusting and horrifying, they are totally delicious and whoever is eating them will quickly forget about the unappetizing appearance.