Friday, November 16, 2018

Halloween Candy Cookie Cake

This week was brutally busy. I'm not even sure with what but I went to bed exhausted every single evening. Part of the reason was due to the fact that Paul was traveling for work this week and being the sole caretaker for the kids really does take a toll on me. When Paul comes home, it at least gives the kids another body to annoy, complain to, or climb all over besides me! Plus, Daniel has been going through a super fussy period at night. He used to be the best sleeper and is now waking up multiple times at night. My guess is teething but that's pretty much what I blame any fussy behavior on at this age. I know it will pass, but right now it seems as if I will never experience a restful night of sleep every again!

So, that's what's up with me. Here's a little update on each of the kids because they've all had pretty interesting weeks.

Let's start with Lucy. She woke up bright and early on Tuesday of this week and decided from here on out that she was no longer a little girl, but a puppy. Not just any puppy, but a puppy named "Ruff Ruff." In fact, she will correct me any time I refer to her as "Lucy" and not "Ruff Ruff." Now, Ruff Ruff is very specific about how she wants to be treated. She has been known to give me prompts "Pet my head" or "Tell me to do some tricks" or "Put my water on the floor so I can lick it like a dog" (I decline to indulge that request). She loves to play fetch and initiates the game by scratching my leg while I am working in the kitchen until I bend down and toss whatever toy she has in her mouth into the next room so she can chase after it. Just like any overly-energetic puppy, Ruff Ruff never seems to tire of this game. The worst part about having Ruff Ruff around, at least in my humble opinion, is that I never know when I am going to be gifted with a wet, warm, saliva-drenched lick on the back of the leg. Ruff Ruff strikes at any time with this sign of affection - while I am making dinner, nursing the baby, or reading a book - and it makes me cringe every single time. I personally will be very happy when Ruff Ruff leaves and Lucy returns. But, as I type this out, it is Friday morning and Ruff Ruff is rolled in a ball, pretending to sleep at my feet, occasionally letting out a bark. Really hoping Lucy returns before we have to go to church tomorrow for Matthew's First Communion.

Matthew is very excited about receiving his First Communion and Confirmation on Saturday. He has been looking forward to this day for a long time and has studied very hard to prepare for it. He chose Saint Francis to be his Confirmation saint because Saint Francis loves animals and, in the words of Matthew, that means "he probably loved dinosaurs too and since I want to be a paleontologist, Saint Francis would be a good patron saint for me." I failed to tell him that I actually did a little research to see if there was a patron saint of paleontology and there is, but it isn't Saint Francis. It's Saint Augustine. Who ironically is the son of Saint Monica, my saint namesake. But regardless, Matthew has his heart set on Francis. He actually had to write a short paper about Saint Francis for his Confirmation class. In order to properly research his paper, I bought a biography of Saint Francis for him and he read it eagerly, cover to cover. When it came time to write his paper, I sat him down in front of the computer and urged him to type out what he had learned. The result was a plethora of information about the good saint but in a jumbled format and order that gave me a glimpse into the manic nature of Matthew's third-grade brain.

One of my favorite lines read as follows: "Saint Francis saved a village from a wolf. He told him to stop doing bad things and the wolf was fed by the people for the rest of his life. We actually don't know if it was a girl or a boy wolf. So we should just say it was a girl/boy wolf."

It's the little details that he obsesses over.

Matthew is actually turning into quite the little writer. He has been avidly writing a bunch of short stories, inspired by the sights, sounds, and experiences of his daily life. My favorite project of his, a short story he wrote for creative writing class in school, is called "Every Fig." If you are familiar with the Bible, you may recall a story in the Gospel where Jesus rebukes a fig tree. Matthew decided to write that story from the fig's perspective. It was hilarious stuff. Basically, in the story, the hardworking figs receive a promise from an angel that their tree will never catch fire. But then, Jesus came along. I was in stitches as Matthew retold what he wrote. It was pretty creative. I've been very proud of him this school year. He had been excelling in his schoolwork and even won the music award this quarter.

Emma is also excelling at school. Socially that is. She is a bit of a troublemaker at school because she so loves to make others laugh. The result is that she is often disruptive at inappropriate times in her classroom. She has been sent to the Principal's office on more than one occasion. Matthew, whose classroom is directly next door to Emma's, has been able to witness his sister being reprimanded on more than one occasion. This actually helps me out a bit because I can obtain all the juicy, gossipy details from Matthew before confronting Emma about what happened.

Despite her troubles, Emma is very well liked by both students and teachers alike at the school. Matthew has actually been very annoyed at how much the girls in his class baby and adore Emma, often "taking care of her" during recess. Emma has a knack for getting others to do favors for her. An extra example of this would be when some men came to our house to deliver our new kitchen table. They arrived at the same time I pulled in with my carload of kids fresh from school pickup. I asked them to give me a minute as I carried in Daniel, Lucy's shoes, and an assortment of mail we had just collected from our mailbox. When I came back outside, I saw Emma walking between the two delivery men, one of them carrying her backpack, another carrying her shoes and coat. She was instructing them where to put her things once they got inside. She's a bit of a prima donna.

Emma made my week very eventful by feigning illness three out of five days. The first day, the school nurse called to tell me that Emma had been complaining all morning that she felt like she was going to throw up. After a nap in the sick room, she still wasn't feeling perky, so I was asked to bring her home. The minute she got into the car, she began requesting to dip into her Halloween bucket, followed by a high intensity game of chase with Lucy (I'm sorry, I mean Ruff Ruff). Obviously she wasn't feeling too awful. I should also mention that she ate plenty during her "sick time" at home so I was pretty sure she was manipulating people as usual. So, when I got another call from the school two days later stating that Emma was making the same complaints, I told them to tell her to knock it off and get back to class. And (surprise, surprise) she never once threw up.

On a positive note, Emma has been spending all her free time paper crafting. She's been working diligently making many beautiful paper flowers that are now decorating our home. She also made a crown for Pumpkin Bear. She's a crafting maniac.

And little Daniel...he's rolling everywhere he can and getting frustrated that he's not more mobile. He shall be crawling any day now and I can already forsee the destruction! Even with his limited mobility, he still manages to roll over to a cabinet of choice, open it, and expel all the contents! I'm going to be in big trouble when he really starts going!

He's wearing some of his Dad's old clothes in these pictures. So cute.

The kids also had rosary club this week. It's held once each month at their school and basically involves them spending an hour after school making rosaries for missionaries while praying the rosary with their teachers and friends. Matthew and Emma both love it. I had promised the kids that I would send in some snacks for club this month, so I raided the candy bags once again and came up with this lovely Halloween Candy Cookie Cake. It made for a fun and eye-catching treat for the kids and they all raved about it! They loved finding different fun-size candy bars in each bite - apparently each kid had two slices (I did try to cut them as thin as I could!). This was a fun way to use up some of that candy...although I honestly feel as if I haven't made a dent! There is still so much left!!

Halloween Candy Cookie Cake

For the Cookie Cake:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups leftover Halloween candy, roughly chopped (use mini candy bars, m&ms, peanut butter cups, etc)

For the chocolate frosting:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1 and 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, more if needed
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream, more if needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9" pie plate with non-stick baking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl add the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar; beat well until combined. Cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix here! Fold in the chopped candy bars. Spread the mixture into the prepared pie plate (it will be very thick), smooth the top, and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the edges are completely set, and the center of the pie is only slightly jiggly.

Top the warm cookie cake with extra candy, if desired. Transfer cookie cake to a wire rack to cool for at least one hour before topping with frosting (if using) and slicing.

To make the chocolate frosting, sift together the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder, whisking well to ensure it is free of lumps.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy; about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder, alternating with the cream, then add the vanilla and salt. Once all of the ingredients have been added, beat on high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape frosting into a piping bag fitted with an large star tip or other decorating tip of choice and pipe onto the cooled cake. Enjoy the sugar rush!

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