Cooking in College: Dirt and worms

I have always loved Halloween and nothing gets me in the spooky spirit more than Halloween treats.

Editor’s Note: Cooking in College will feature student food-blogger Stephanie Bouret’s experiences with cooking and adapted recipes that will be manageable for the everyday college student. Visit her blog at stephcooks.blogspot.com.

I have always loved Halloween and nothing gets me in the spooky spirit more than Halloween treats.

This year, I decided to make chocolate dirt and gummy worm pudding cups, a classic Halloween treat but with a delicious twist: the cups are made of cookies.

The cookie cups are really simple to make, but just in case, I baked a small test batch first where I ran into a few problems. By the second batch, I got the hang of it and they turned out great! Hopefully, the hints I provide below will help your dirt and worms turn out perfectly.

You will need:

1 package refrigerated cookie dough (see details below)

1 package instant chocolate pudding

6-8 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs

1 package of gummy worms

I began the process with a well-greased muffin tin and a package of refrigerated cookie dough. Ideally, chocolate cookie dough would be best because of its likeness in color to dirt. I couldn’t find chocolate cookie dough at Safeway so I tried it with both Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie dough and Pillsbury peanut butter cookie dough, each about $3. You could also try using sugar cookie dough and adding cocoa powder to turn it brown, but I didn’t think of this in time to try it. The chocolate chip dough tasted good but the chocolate chips made it hard to evenly mold the dough into the muffin tin. For this reason, I’d recommend using dough without chips.

Divide the dough into two-tablespoon balls. Press each ball of dough into the muffin tin, making a thin layer of dough on the bottom and an even layer up the sides, creating a cookie dough cup. A word of warning: The layer on the bottom MUST be thin in order for it to cook properly. In my first batch, the bottom was too thick and stayed gooey, making it impossible to remove the cups without them breaking.

Bake the cups for about 10 minutes, until they are browned on the edges and still slightly gooey in the middle. Note that the dough will rise and look poofy. Don’t worry; the cookies will deflate as they cool. Remove the tin from the oven and let the cups cool in the tin for 15 minutes. You can gently press down centers of cookie cups with a spoon to re-create the cup shape again, but be careful not to crack them.

The more the cookies cool, the easier they will be to get out of the pan without breaking. Once cooled, carefully cut around the edges of the cookie with a sharp knife, and gently lift out the cup with a fork. This is where chocolate chip cookies will be more difficult to remove – the chocolate chips stick more to the tin and you might end up with some holes in the bottom of your cups if you do not remove them carefully.

While the cookie cups cool, prepare the chocolate pudding as directed on the box. Pudding typically takes five minutes to settle in the refrigerator.

Once cooled, lay a gummy worm in the middle of the cup and add a couple teaspoons of chocolate pudding on top. The pudding will help hold the gummy worm in place. You can find gummy worms in the candy bins or pre-packaged for $3 and Jell-o Instant Pudding for $1.25 at Safeway. Crush up some Oreo cookies into crumbs and sprinkle them over the pudding and the worm. I used Safeway Tuxedo cookies since they were only $2.50 and are just as good as Oreo cookies. Obviously you won’t use an entire package of cookies for the dirt, but I had no objection to leftover cookies!

The finished dirt & worm cookies look amazing, taste delicious, are simple to make (with the help of a few key hints) and are perfect for a Halloween party or a fun and creative baking project. They taste best once freshly made, but if you have some left over, I recommend storing them in the fridge since pudding is perishable.

This recipe was adapted from the community forums on recipezaar.com.

STEPHANIE BOURET can be reached at features@theaggie.org.