The Joy of Cooking Milhouse

“Treehouse of Horror VIII”, season 9, episode 4

I thought I’d squeeze in one last Treehouse of Horror recipe before the season officially ends. And we’re ending on what could be a gross note but will, in fact, be delicious. Look past the title and just trust me.

Season 9’s edition of the Halloween tradition includes “Easy-Bake Coven,” a Salem witch trial parody featuring Springfielders in old timey garb. They burn a few witches, including Seymour’s mom, and a town hall follows soon after. Goody (Marge) Simpson tries to protest, per usual, and they call her a witch. They take her to a cliff and tell her to jump off with a broom, therefore proving she’s a witch or plummeting to her death. Makes sense.

Turns out, she IS a witch! She flies up cackling, now green, and Bart declares “Well, I’ll be a son of a witch!” Marge turns Wiggum into a giant gopher and sends the town running.

Meanwhile, Patty and Selma (also witches) are working on a witches’ brew. “This needs more eye of newt.” “You always want more eye of newt. If it was up to you, the brew would be nothing but newt eyes.” Marge joins and tells them she’s been found out and had to leave her family. “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cat.”

Peering into the all-seeing caldron, they get the idea to eat children from spying on the Flanders. They knock on the door and tell them they’re there to eat their kids. Super normal! They open the door for some reason and put Rod and Todd in their sacks, trick or treating style. To try and get their kids back, the Flanders offer to swap for gingerbread kids since “they’re boneless!” The witches accept the swap and enjoy their cookies.

The witches then go trick-or-treating (starting the tradition), snagging a candy apple and a delicious caramel cod. “I just wish we hadn’t filled up on all those kids before we got to the Flanders’.”

And that’s the story of the very first caramel cod. Why not make some for your Halloween celebration? You could buy some cod fish and fry them and dip them in caramel, but should you? Nope. Make some buttery shortbread cookies (tinted red, if you want to be more authentic) and sandwich them with caramel. They’ll keep the old hags at bay.

Caramel Cods
Based on Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe
Makes about 16 sandwich cookies

3/4 pound unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red food coloring
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 fish cookie cutter
1 can dulce de leche (or thick caramel sauce)
16 (or so) 6-inch treat/lollipop sticks (optional)

  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well mixed. Add the vanilla and enough red coloring to make the mixture, ya know, red. Mix.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix until blended. Use your hands to form into a ball and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Pat into a cylinder and wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out as many fish as you can and transfer them to one or two unlined, ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your fish. Let cool for a couple minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Repeat with any remaining dough.
  5. Once the cookies have completely cooled, slather the backs of two cookies with caramel. Place a stick at least halfway up (if using), sticking out from the bottom tail, and sandwich the other sticky fish on top, leaving the stick trapped in the middle.
  6. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Serve to your favorites witches.

Note: The sticks don’t stick well enough to hold the cookie sandwich upright for long, so beware. They’re just as good sans sticks.

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