Don't let these little guys fool you...they weren't plucked out of the pumpkin patch. We made these miniature imposters into a mouthwatering concoction that can easily be displayed on a plate or serving platter! And what's inside is an even better, delicious surprise.
But first, what was our inspiration? We chose one of our favorite symbols of Halloween....the Jack O'Lantern.
Origin of the Jack O'Lantern
The tale of the Jack O'Lantern began back in the mid-1600s in Ireland. The swamps would mysteriously flicker with a flame in the distance causing people to assume this was a mysterious being stalking the swamps at night ~ Come to find out many years later, this is a phenomenom caused when a decomposing plant oxidizes. This bizarre occurrence was the beginning of the legend of Stingy Jack, who carried a turnip lit from within by a single candle.
The legend evolved over time ~ and miles ~ as it came to the states. The beloved Jack O'Lantern has become a time-honored holiday decoration, adorning the porches and windowsills of houses to celebrate the season and provide a lively, slightly eerie glow.
Of course, our YCA kitchens turned this tradition into an edible treat! Choosing oranges to replicate the pumpkin and filling it with a decadent brownie center, we created our own version of a pumpkin patch that can easily become the centerpiece of your Halloween dessert table. No candle required! But you'll definitely want to have plenty of spoons at the ready for these little goodies.
Let's begin and bring our sweet creatures to life!
First, we MISE!
Don't forget! Read your recipe all the way through and gather all of your equipment and ingredients together to avoid leaving out important steps, or worse...having to rush to the grocery store halfway through to pick up ingredients you thought you had on hand! Yikes!
Why do you mix the butter and sugars together before adding it to our dry ingredients? This is called the "creaming method." When you combine the butter and sugar together first, you are creating air bubbles that will expand when baked, creating that fluffy texture we all love so well.
What other actions help create that fluffy texture?
- Using room temperature eggs
- Adding your eggs one at a time ~ this creates a more elastic structure for those air bubbles we created to adhere to, allowing the batter to expand
You want to be sure that you cut off just enough from the bottom of your oranges so that your pumpkins sit up nice and straight. It's okay if a little of the orange flesh shows through but there should be a good amount of the inner rind to hold the ingredients in while baking.
The top portion can be completely trimmed off, allowing you to scoop out the orange flesh easily.
This is the fun part...scooping out the inner portions of the orange is almost like a real pumpkin ~ minus those delicious pumpkin seeds we love to roast.
It's okay if you don't completely clear your orange of the all of the inner flesh. Leaving just a little bit of the orange flesh will just enhance the citrus-y flavor.
Now on to the tasty portion! While you prepared your oranges, your brownie batter has been resting. This allows the gluten to relax so that your final product is not tough or too chewy.
The amount of batter you place in each orange depends on the size of your "pumpkins." We filled ours up, leaving approx. 1/2" space to allow for rising but without overflowing. This created a fluffy brownie top where the pumpkin lid will sit.
It's time to turn our oranges into a pumpkin!
When you are poking a hole into the orange "top," be sure to get as close to the stalk portion that you can so that your candy leaf will cover this area. Make your hole just large enough for your pretzel stick to be inserted.
Poke your pretzel stick through the candy leaf first and then into the hole made in the top of the orange.
Decorate your cooled pumpkin with a marker (it's okay to use a marker since this portion is not what we will be eating!). Give each pumpkin a different face for a fun, finished product. Have fun with decorating your plate to create the illusion that your "pumpkins" are waiting patiently to be plucked from the garden.
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup flour
⅓ cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Green Gum Drop
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray each well of a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the butter, sugars, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and then add them to the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir well.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Combine the wet and the dry ingredients together by adding the flour mixture into the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Prepare the oranges by cutting off just a bit of the bottom to provide a flat surface for placing on the baking sheet. Next, cut off the top of the orange, this time cutting off enough so that you can actually see the flesh (the edible fruit) of the orange.
- Next, cut out the flesh of the orange. Start by making one long round cut between the inside of the pith (the white membrane of the peel) and the flesh. Make a few more diagonal cuts through the center of the orange. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
- Begin popping out wedges of the inside of the orange and removing the pulp. (It is fine to leave a bit of the pulp inside. It will just add to the flavor of the brownie.) Drain the juice from the center. Keep working until you have hollowed-out the oranges.
- Fill each orange with brownie batter, filling to within a half inch of the top. Wrap the outside of each orange with a piece of foil covering just the bottom and sides of the orange, leaving the top unwrapped. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out slightly-coated. (If you under-bake these you will have delicious orange-chocolate molten lava cakes.)
- Garnish: Use scissors to cut a green gum drop in half. Using a rolling pin, roll the gum drop out until it is flat. Use a pair of scissors to cut along the edges of the gum drop so that it resembles a leaf. Use a skewer to poke a hole in each of the tops of the oranges. Take a pretzel stick and poke it through the middle of the gum drop leaf. Insert the pretzel with the leaf into the orange top. Place the orange top back on the orange.
Yield: approx. 6 large or 9 medium orange “pumpkins”