‘Round the Table: Trick or Treat? Bringing Halloween Back

Halloween has changed significantly since I was a kid. Back in the day, October 31 was for children. We dressed in scary costumes, roamed the streets with the other ghouls and goblins and filled our plastic pumpkins (or pillowcases) full of Halloween treats. Eventually we went home and, if we were extremely lucky, our mothers packed a piece or two of Halloween candy in our lunchbox on November 1.

These days, homemade treats are no longer acceptable, and over the years Halloween changed from a time when kids ruled the night to X-rated adult parties. Now, instead of smiling Jack O’Lanterns and Bobbling for Apples, we’ve got Candy Corn Flavored Vodka Shots and Sexy Panda Costumes.  Let’s bring the fun and innocence back to Halloween this year. Let’s all grab a plastic spider ring and some vampire teeth and create some old fashioned Halloween goodies.

This recipe transforms the classic Snickerdoodle into Halloween favorite with delightfully spiced pumpkin flavor.

 

You don’t have to wear rainbow fairy wings to make Pumpkindoodles, but it helps.

Pumpkindoodles

 

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the pumpkin puree and egg and continue to beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture to the butter mixer in three installments, beating well after each addition.  Add the cream and beat until just combined.

For Rolling:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Whisk together the rolling sugar and spice until combined. Using clean hands, roll heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough into 1-inch balls; roll in the sugar mixture to coat.  Place on the prepared pans, spacing 2 inches apart.   Dip a drinking glass in the sugar mixture and flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

 

A meringue topped chocolate tart is the perfect spooky treat for Halloween.

Ghost Tarts

 

Yield: 8 tarts

These Ghost Tarts are so adorably cute! If you don’t have mini tart pans, these little tarts are just as cute prepared in a traditional tart pan.

For the crust:

  • 8 large graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of melted butter

 

For the filling:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

For Ghosts:

  • 1 ½ cup of sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Break the graham crackers into pieces and place them in the bowl of a food processor; add the sugar and pulse the mixture until the crackers form a very fine crumb. Add the butter and pulse to combine.

Press the graham cracker mixture into 8 (2 ½ inch) tart pans and transfer the pans to a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges of the tartlets darken slightly.  Let cool.

Make the chocolate ganache by heating the cream in a small saucepan until it barely simmers.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate; let the mixture sit for 3 minutes and then whisk until very smooth.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared graham crusts.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Prepare a double boiler by heating 3 inches of water in a saucepan set over medium heat; place a heat proof bowl over the simmering water and to the bowl add the sugar and egg whites.  Whisk to combine the sugar and eggs and then continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch. Rub a bit between your fingers; if it feels gritty the sugar has not dissolved.

Remove the bowl from the double boiler and add the vanilla; with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer beat the hot egg whites until stiff, shiny peaks form. Transfer the meringue to a plastic pastry bag and snip the end to about 1½ inches wide. Pipe 4-inch “ghosts” onto the tarts.

Use a small paintbrush dipped in cocoa powder, create the eyes and mouth.

 

Stir well. It may take some time, but eventually, all the popcorn kernels will be coated.

Caramel Corn

 

Yield:  about 24 cups

  • 24 cups (6 quarts) popped popcorn
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts, lightly salted
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250°F.  Divide the popcorn and peanuts between two large roasting pans.

In a medium skillet set over medium high heat, place the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and then boil without stirring for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.

Carefully pour the caramel over the popcorn and peanuts and mix well. This will seem like a sticky mess, but do the best you can. Bake at 250°F for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes; as you stir throughout the baking process the caramel will eventually coat each kernel.

Remove from the oven and spread on wax paper to cool.  Break up into bite sized pieces and store airtight.