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Happy Halloween

I must admit that Halloween took me a bit of getting used to. It's not big in Germany and since it's
not even fall here in Sydney it feels kind of weird to bother with it. But, since my daughter is in
pre school they do all sorts of Halloween preparation. One morning she said we need to have a
carved pumpkin as well. I like crafting so I thought we also need some bats to go with the
Jack O' Lantern and so I we made some out of toilet paper rolls and black cardboard paper, ah, and of course, googly eyes! And here we go:

Halloween Jack O'Lantern and bats.

But why do the Americans have Jack O'Lanterns I wondered.  I found a good story on pumpkin nook:
The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel, and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

Halloween cupcakes.

 These are the cupcakes I made for the Halloween party:

100 g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
110 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150 g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
60 g Nutella

For the marshmallow frosting:
200 g cater sugar
80 ml water
2 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree. Line a 12 standard muffin pan with paper cases (mines are from IKEA)
2. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour and milk with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is pale and creamy.
3. Swirl through Nutella to get a marbel effect. Divide mixture among cases.
4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
5. Meanwhile make frosting, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.
6. Boil, uncovered, without stirring about 5 minutes or  until syrup reaches 116 degree on a sugar thermometer. Syrup should be thick but not coloured.
7. Remove from heat. Beat egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. While mixer is running add hot syrup in a thin steady stream. Beat on high speed about 10 minutes or until mixture is thick and glossy.
8. Fill an icing bag (with a standard round nozzle attached) with the frosting and decorate cupcakes. I tried to make some of them look like ghosts and the others where for my daughter to decorate. She loves sprinkles (of course) and chose the autumn leaves which is quite suitable actually. The eyes are made with Wilton Sparkle Gel.

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