Giant Halloween Skillet Cookie Cake

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Ok, not the most chic and elegant of names, but uh…that’s basically what I made, y’all. Chocolate chip cookie cake is (and always has been) a beautiful thing. I started with this recipe from http://www.allthecooks.com, because it came up when I Googled for “giant skillet cookie” and had good reviews. But I wondered if I could…Halloween-ify it. So I swapped in Reese’s Pieces (fall colors! also more peanut butter = more better) for chocolate chips, and added a milk chocolate frosting border from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The result? A delicious treat made a bit more festive by the seasonal colors and the candy swap-in. I just adore cookie cakes — that childhood flavor plus the squishiness of cake.

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yeah, that’s a snitch hat. it was a birthday gift last year and I LOVE IT. what says fall more than a snitch hat??

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed down — click here to learn how to measure brown sugar)
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 – 2 boxes Reese’s Pieces (see directions)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350*
Grease cast iron skillet with vegetable oil (I took a clean dishrag and just tilted the bottle onto it a few times to dampen it with oil, and wiped down the inside of the skillet)
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl (note in the first photo how I am measuring flour? This is important, y’all. Learn more about measuring flour here.)

In another bowl, cream together butter and both sugars using a hand-mixer or a stand-mixer, until well combined (you may have to scrape down sides/attachment a few times)
Add egg and vanilla and continue to beat together ingredients
Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar until well combined (I scooped up the flour mixture in a small bowl and added it in bits, waiting until it was creamy before adding more)
Turn off mixer and stir in one box of Reese’s Pieces using a wooden spoon or a spatula
Scrape dough into skillet and bake for 25 minutes, or until edges begin to brown (a note : this took MUSCLE. The dough was relatively thick — I may have overstirred it a bit, but even so — and getting it to spread evenly was a bit of a task. For me, it helped to use a large spatula and then a butter knife, because the dough would stick to the spatula and needed some encouraging to flop into the pan.)

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almost ready to go in the oven — all that remains is decoratively adding even MORE Reese’s Pieces. mua ha ha

If desired, open a second box of Reese’s Pieces and decoratively place extra candies in the top of the dough. Eat the rest.
Remove from oven and set skillet on wire rack to cool.
Once cool, frost if desired (it’s really good without frosting, too!)

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fresh out of the oven! note the browned edges

Frosting
Ingredients:
1 & 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee (this is my addition — I feel it brings out the chocolatey flavor more, and I keep instant coffee in the baking cabinet for my mom’s mocha chocolate frosting, which I may just post next month — keep your eyes peeled!)

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ignore the bottle of chocolate milk — that’s not an ingredient, it’s just in the photo because I was drinking chocolate milk straight from the bottle while I made chocolate frosting. totally normal.
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I sort of have no idea what I am doing with a frosting bag, but it looks alright to me. 🙂

Directions:
Sift together sugar and cocoa to remove lumps
Beat butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer until creamy
Gradually add in sugar/cocoa mixture and vanilla & heavy cream, alternating between the two, until well combined
Add a pinch of salt (to taste, I like sweet things with a bit of salt almost always) and the instant coffee (if desired) and then continue to beat frosting for a couple of minutes (note : instant coffee is in pretty big granules, so I crushed it between my fingers as I added it to the frosting).
Decorate how you wish! I placed my frosting in a decorating bag and piped it around the edges, and then set Reese’s Pieces in it

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Cut into wedges and serve. 🙂

Applesauce Mini-Muffins (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

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Today’s is a two-part recipe. These applesauce muffins can easily be made with store-bought applesauce, but making your own is so easy and fun that I thought I’d include that recipe, too. Click on over for crockpot applesauce instructions, and when you’re ready, come back here for the baking!

After we’d been enjoying our applesauce for about a week, I felt overwhelmed by how much we still had left and wondered how I could use some up. I came across a simple muffin recipe on Williams-Sonoma and made a few alterations. Ding ding ding! I left out walnuts (because I don’t like them) and raisins (because David LOATHES them) and used a mini muffin tin instead of a regular sized one. I also added vanilla to the batter to make the flavor a bit more mellow and warm, and included a cinnamon-sugar topping for crunch and a touch of sparkle. The result is adorable, autumnal treats that make a great snack, dessert, or sweet treat at breakfast. They are also great to bring to an event or get-together as they travel well and are just so cute!

Applesauce Mini-Muffins from Williams-Sonoma
makes about 36 mini-muffins

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 generous cup of applesauce (Williams-Sonoma advises measuring this not in a one-cup measure but in a glass measuring cup, like a Pyrex)
1 teaspoon vanilla

carefully picking out bits of stupid, stupid apple peel from my applesauce before baking

Cinnamon sugar for topping (Note: We have an entire shaker of cinnamon sugar just sitting in our cabinet because David eats a lot of cinnamon toast. If you don’t have some around, combine 1/4 cup regular sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder. This will make enough for the muffin toppings plus some extra that you can keep in a jar for cinnamon toast or for sprinkling on oatmeal or applesauce.)

Directions :
Preheat your oven to 350* F and butter a mini muffin tin (or regular muffin tin)
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Create a well in the bottom of the mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir; this will take some muscle and seem at first like there are too many dry ingredients, but be persistent. Don’t overmix — stir until just combined.

Combining the wet & dry ingredients. See the chunks in the applesauce? There are two possible results with each chunk : it melts into the muffin, or it becomes a very very soft little apple chunk that you get to bite into. Both results are awesome. So don’t worry if your applesauce is a bit chunky.

Spoon mixture into muffin tin, filling each well between halfway and three-quarters full.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of each mini muffin.
Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes if in a mini muffin tin or 25 – 30 in a regular tin, or until a toothpick (or in my case, skewer, as I can’t find the toothpicks…) comes out of the center of a muffin clean.
Let cool at least 5 minutes and enjoy!

the muffins are exactly the size of a tea light.
the muffins are exactly the size of a tea light.

These smelled SO GOOD while they were baking. I mean, I thought the applesauce had smelled great but this was next level. The cinnamon sugar topping adds a touch of crunch to these otherwise very moist muffins. They store well in an airtight container for up to a week. But they’re so cute and easy to pop in your mouth that they probably won’t make it that long anyway. 😉

Note on why mini muffins : I just love mini muffins…they are so cute, and it feels like I’ve accomplished more because there are so many MORE muffins. Plus, they’re more versatile. You can have like 4 if you want a big ol’ muffin, but if you just want a teeny snack, these fit the bill too, thus increasing the number of times per day that you can eat the muffins…brilliant, right?

A final note : it is 100% okay to use store-bought applesauce for this recipe! I’d recommend buying applesauce with no sugar added, as sugar-added applesauce + the sugar in the muffin recipe might make them overly sweet.