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Archive for Halloween

RECIPE: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin whoopie pies. Photo courtesy Kraft.


As a Halloween- and Thanksgiving-season treat, bake a batch of these whoopie pies.

The recipe below, from Kraft, consists of a pumpkin cake “sandwich? filled with ginger-cinnamon cream. The glamor comes from rolling the cream edges in seasonally themed sprinkles like these (or for an edgy whoopie pie, these skull sprinkles).

For Thanksgiving, try these pretty fall leaves sprinkles or these autumn mix sprinkles.

The cakes can be made ahead of time, baked and frozen for up to 2 weeks. When freezing, place in single layer in pan to prevent them from sticking together. Thaw completely before using them to assemble the whoopie pies.




  • 1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla flavor instant pudding
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Halloween sprinkles


    1. HEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. BEAT first 7 ingredients with mixer until well blended. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Scoop into 32 mounds, using about 2 tablespoons for each on the sheet, placing them 3 inches apart. You can use a small ice cream scoop to quickly portion the scoops of dough onto the baking sheet.

    3. BAKE 12 to 14 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

    4. BEAT cream cheese, marshmallow cream, ginger and cinnamon in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Whisk in whipped topping. Spread 3 tablespoons onto flat side of 1 cake; top with second cake, flat-side down. Roll edge in sprinkles. Repeat with remaining cakes. Keep refrigerated.


    Another season, another reason, for making whoopies. Photo courtesy Kraft.



    A whoopie pie is technically a sandwich cookie, but the cookies have a cake consistency. Yet it’s called neither cookie nor cake, but pie.

    Clearly, a whoopie is no pie: A pie comprises a pastry crust with a filling.

    Yet a Boston Creme Pie is two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard and glazed with chocolate. A cheesecake contains no cake; it’s a cheese custard pie. Misnomers exist.

    According to food historians, these Amish-baked desserts, possibly made from leftover cake batter, where originally known as hucklebucks, or creamy turtles. As the legend goes, one farmer who opened his lunch pail to find the treat shouted “Whoopie!” and the name stuck.

    Whoopies are made in many flavor these days, but the original consisted of two wee chocolate cake “layers” with a creamy vanilla frosting between them.

    Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania all claim to be the birthplace of the whoopie pie.

  • The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau claims that the dessert originated with the Lancaster County Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch.
  • While there are no dated, hand-written or printed records from Pennsylvania, Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine has been making whoopie pies since 1925.
  • The now-defunct Berwick Cake Company of Roxbury, Massachusetts began baking them in 1931.



    FOOD FUN: Halloween Caramel Corn

    These cookies from, packed with popcorn and candy corn, inspired us to make something much simpler: caramel corn mixed with candy corn and almonds. If that sounds too sweet for you, mix the candy corn and almonds with plain popcorn.

    This caramel corn recipe is adapted from a base recipe from Golden Blossom Honey. You can also substitute maple syrup or the lower-glycemic agave nectar. (If you use agave, try half a cup, as it‘s much sweeter than honey or maple syrup.)



  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    Popcorn-candy corn cookies. Photo courtesy Here’s the recipe.

  • 6 quarts plain popcorn, popped (3 microwave bags of natural flavor)
  • Mix-ins: 1/2 cup candy corn, 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts (or more of each to taste)


    1. MELT butter over medium heat melt heat, then blend in brown sugar. Add the honey, corn syrup and salt, stirring constantly until mixture boils.

    2. COOK uncovered and without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from burner and add baking soda and vanilla. Pour warm mixture over popcorn and toss until coated.

    3. SPREAD popcorn out on two cookie sheets and bake at 250° for one hour. Every 15 minutes stir the popcorn to keep it from burning.

    3. REMOVE from oven and top with candy corn and nuts. Allow to cool. Serve in a bowl; store in an airtight container.


  • Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Treats

    The skeleton called: He wants his teeth back! Photo courtesy The Pampered Chef.


    Here are two “fun food” ideas from The Pampered Chef, which provides direct sales opportunities at home parties. You can find out more about becoming a Pampered Chef consultant at


    Here’s a better-for-you Halloween snack with a vampire twist.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 5 mini marshmallows
  • Optional: 2 almonds for fangs (replaces two mini
    marshmallows—see photo)


    1. CUT the apple into 10 wedges, then spread peanut butter onto five wedges.

    2. PRESS five mini marshmallows into the peanut butter (closer to the apple skin) to resemble teeth.

    3. PRESS the five remaining apple wedges down onto the marshmallows; serve up the smiles!



    These were made in a microwave egg cooker.


  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix (half of a 15.25- or 16.5-ounce package, about 1-2/3 cups cake mix)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • Mini pretzel sticks
  • Coating chocolate
  • Red hots or other small red candies for eyes


    The only spiders we’ll eat are devil’s food spiders. Photo courtesy The Pampered Chef.


    1. MIX batter and place three rounded tablespoons into each egg cooker well.

    2. MICROWAVE uncovered on HIGH for 2-2½ minutes.

    3. CREATE legs from chocolate covered mini pretzel sticks. Make 6 jointed legs for each spider by affixing dipped pretzel sticks at an angle with melted chocolate.

    4. MAKE eyes using small red candies.

    Have fun!



    HALLOWEEN: Vampire Drink

    Whether your guests want a glass of white wine, sparkling wine or other clear drink, add a bloody effect with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) or any red fruit liqueur.

    For the mocktail set, use raspberry syrup instead of cassis and add it to club soda, ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. If you can’t find raspberry or other red fruit syrup on the shelf (check the pancake syrup area), you can make it:


  • 2 pounds berries
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

    1. CLEAN and slice berries. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, skimming off any foam.


    A drop of cassis gives drinks a bloody effect. Photo courtesy Smirnoff.


    2. REMOVE from heat and strain into a clean pot. DO NOT press down on the berries to release more liquid. Discard the berries.

    3. ADD sugar to the berry liquid and return to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve. Simmer for 5 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved, continuing to skim off any foam.

    4. REMOVE from heat and cool completely. Pour into a glass container, seal and refrigerate. The syrup will keep for several weeks.


    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce Smirnoff Wild Honey Flavored Vodka
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce apple juice
  • Cassis

    1. PLACE first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake.

    2. RIM a martini glass with cassis and pour some down the side to get a pool of “blood” at the bottom of the glass. Add cocktail and serve.

    *This recipe is for simple syrup for beverages, not for pancake syrup. You’ll need to reduce the syrup further for a thicker pancake-style syrup.


    FOOD FUN: Pumpkin Cocktail In A Baby Pumpkin

    We’ll drink to that! Photo courtesy American
    Alibi Whiskey.


    If you don’t want to hollow out a dozen or more baby pumpkins to serve as vessels for this Pumpkin Patch Julep, just use a standard glass. The ingredients make a delicious Halloween cocktail.

    TIP: You can wash, dry and freeze the pumpkins in food storage bags to use again next Halloween—or for Thanksgiving.

    Or, start a collection of pumpkin mugs.

    The recipe is courtesy Alibi American Whiskey.



    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces Alibi American Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Ice
  • Optional: mint leaves for garnish
  • Optional: baby pumpkin, insides scooped out


    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled cocktail glass—or a baby pumpkin, or a pumpkin mug.

    3. GARNISH with a mint leaves, a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a whole clove.


    The bottle design is perfect for Halloween, too. Photo courtesy Alibi American Whiskey.




    HALLOWEEN: Healthy Trick Or Treating

    All kids look forward to collecting a bag of candy on Halloween. Few would gracefully accept a healthy piece of fruit, much as their parents might support the idea.

    Yet, there are healthy foods that kids see as treats, and you can feel good about handing out:

  • Pistachio Nuts. Always a favorite! You may be able to find individual snack bags in flavors, such as Sweet Chili or Wasabi.
  • Fruit Or Vegetable Chips. Last week’s Top Pick, Bare Fruit apple chips are as sweet and satisfying as any candy—yet there’s no added sugar! For a salty alternative, look for vegetable chips mixed with dried legumes, such as edamame and peas.
  • Popcorn. It’s a whole grain snack! Ideally, pass by the caramel corn and kettle corn for plain or savory flavors.
  • Whole Grain Pretzels. This is whole grain the way kids like it: crunchy and salty.

    A Halloween treat you can feel good about. Photo courtesy Wonderful Pistachios.

  • Jerky. Many brands are loaded with sugar and salt, but read the labels. Brands like Silver Creek dial down both sugar and salt.

    Just don’t tell the kids that these are “healthy snacks” and they’ll enjoy them as much as the candy.

    There are 364 other days each year to discuss the benefits of fiber and nutrients and the ills of empty calories, salt, sugar and fat.



    HALLOWEEN: Witch’s Fingers Breadsticks

    A hostess gift for Morticia Addams? Photo


    Halloween is a week away. Are your mummy ducks in order?

    Halloween is great fun for kids, but adults enjoy fun food too. These crunchy breadsticks combine the ghoulish with the delicious. You can make them as is, or add a few drops of green food color to the dough if you want your witch to have green-tinted flesh.

    The recipe is courtesy of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, baking partners who have written several books that make bread-baking easier for anyone who wants to pull fresh loaves from the oven.

    Why not serve the breadsticks with a bowl of “bloody worm” pasta: maloreddus pasta with tomato sauce?


    Ingredients For 8 Breadsticks

  • 8 ounces Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day—or any other non-enriched dough
  • Optional: green food color to tint the dough
  • 8 whole raw almonds
  • Olive oil for greasing the pan


    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. There is no need for a stone.

    2. DIVIDE the 8-ounce ball of dough into 8 equal pieces. Elongate the pieces into ropes.

    3. TWIST the ropes so there is a knot in the middle; this will look like a gnarly knuckle when they are baked.

    4. GREASE a baking sheet and arrange the breadsticks at least an inch apart. Let them rest for 20 minutes. Right before baking, press the almond “fingernail” into the end of each breadstick. Be sure to press hard, so they won’t pop off while baking.

    5. BAKE for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

    Here are photos of the whole process.


    Get the book and preheat the oven. Photo courtesy Thomas Dunne Books.



    Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François know that people want to bake their own bread, so long as they can do it easily and quickly. Their revised classic enables you to do just that: “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, Zoë François and Stephen Scott Gross.

    You can read a nice chunk of the book via the “Look Inside” feature on, and can pursue the authors’ blog for more recipes.

    The authors have also taken on healthy bread, with “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free.”



    RECIPE: Sparkling Cider Cocktail Or Mocktail

    Make it as short or tall as you like. Photo
    courtesy Polar Seltzer.


    It would be a shame to let apple cider season pass without having a cider cocktail or mocktail.

    You can buy sparkling cider, or you can make it by adding seltzer to regular cider, in this idea from Polar Seltzer. It dilutes the cider—the cider version of a wine spritzer—but you can make that up with rum.

    It goes from mocktail to cocktail with a splash of rum—preferably, spiced rum for more complex flavors.

    You can create the drink it in any glass, but we prefer a tall highball.



  • Apple cider
  • Rum or spiced rum: from a splash to 1/2 ounce
  • splash of club soda
  • Optional garnish: apple slice, cinnamon stick

    Variation: Ginger Cider

    Mix ginger ale and apple cider in your preferred proportions. It can be a mocktail or a cocktail, with rum or tequila.



    FOOD FUN: Halloween Hot Chocolate & More

    Here’s a fun way to serve hot chocolate, whether for a party or family breakfast. You can use instant hot chocolate, or make it from scratch.

    RECIPE: Halloween Hot Chocolate


  • Prepared hot chocolate
  • Whipped cream
  • Peeps marshmallow cat, ghost or pumpkin
  • Optional: Skewer to anchor marshmallow
  • Optional: Seasonal spices: cinnamon, ginger,
    nutmeg, rum extract

    Marshmallow hot chocolate, Peeps-style.
    Photo courtesy Peeps.


    Can ghosts drown? Float one in a bowl of
    sweet potato soup. Photo courtesy Peeps.



    1. PREPARE hot chocolate; add to cups. Stir in optional spices (if you’re making hot chocolate from scratch in a sauce pan, add them to the sauce pan).

    2. Top with whipped cream.

    3. INSERT marshmallow cat, ghost or pumpkin. If using the optional skewer, first place marshmallow on top.

    Any solid color mug you have is just fine.

    But if you like the idea of holiday mugs, look for markdowns on Halloween-theme mugs, or buy black or orange mugs that can be used year-round. We like these festive mugs in orange and black stripes and dots.



  • Decorate cakes (recipe idea) or top cupcakes (recipe idea).
  • Float a ghost atop sweet potato soup, or stand him up in mashed sweet potatoes (recipe idea).
  • Thread the three different shapes on a skewer, alternating with strawberries or grapes
  • Top chocolate pudding (recipe idea)
    See more ideas on



    HALLOWEEN: Creative Witch & Pumpkin Chocolate

    We’ve seen a lot of Halloween chocolate, but the best molded chocolate of the season are from Li-Lac Chocolates in New York City: a witch carrying her jack-o’-lantern (at right) and a jack-o’-lantern filled with candy corn (photo below).

    Li-Lac, founded in 1923, is a Manhattan institution. Before the eruption of the artisan food movement in the 1980s, there were only two chocolate shops on the entire West Side of Manhattan Island: Li-Lac Chocolates in Greenwich Village, and Mondel’s Chocolates in Morningside Heights, across the street from Columbia University (it opened in 1943).

    Happily, in this town of real estate sturm und drang, where family businesses regularly “loose their leases*,” these chocolatiers have survived.

    *When the old lease expires, the current, sky-high New York City rents make it impossible for many shopkeepers to keep their doors open.


    A witch carries her own jack-o’-lantern in this beautiful molded piece. Photo courtesy Li-Lac Chocolates.



    In our childhood, we’d take the subway down to Greenwich Village to the original Christopher Street location for some of everything. Our favorites were green marzipan acorns with dark chocolate tops, and chocolate-covered orange peel. McNulty’s Tea & Coffee was (and still is!) right across the street—for decades, the only store devoted to fine, loose tea and coffee beans. This was our first solo “gourmet expedition.”

    Li-Lac was founded in 1923 by a Greek expatriat, George Demetrious, who had studied the art of chocolate-making in France. During the 1920s and through the 1960s, New York City’s Greenwich Village was a Bohemian destination for artists, intellectuals and innovators. They didn’t have to go far for good chocolate, coffee or tea.


    This jack-o’-lantern hides a secret: His head
    isfull of candy corn! Photo courtesy Li-Lac



    For 90 years, Li-Lac has remained true to its history and tradition, eschewing automation and trendiness (no beer and pretzel caramels or chipotle chocolate) to continue production of the original recipes in small-batch production techniques. The company proudly bills itself as “stubbornly old-fashioned.”

    In 2005, rising rents forced Li-Lac to move from its original Christopher Street location. It found new retail quarters some seven blocks away at 40 Eighth Avenue (at Jane Street). There’s another location in Midtown at 109 East 42nd Street. Production moved to Brooklyn.

    Li-Lac’s selection of fresh artisanal chocolate includes more than 140 items—one of the largest selections of fresh gourmet chocolate in America. Take a look at Li-Lac



    If you’re in New York City, this Sunday, November 3rd, Li-Lac is celebrating its 90th anniversary at its Greenwich Village store, 40 Eighth Avenue at Jane Street. From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. the public is welcome to stop by.

    The company will sell four original chocolate confections at the 1923 prices of 23¢ apiece. There will be complimentary wine pairings by Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery, and the Kitchen Opera Company will provide musical interludes.



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