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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Halloween

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Bark From Leftover Halloween Candy


Chop up those miniatures, add whatever else
you have and make bark. See the recipe
above at


Many American households woke up today to lots of Halloween candy. You can eat some of it as is, but we especially like this solution from, who adapted it from this Bon Appetit recipe:

Turn it into chocolate bark studded with pieces of Halloween candy.

And on top of that, make it an annual tradition. We hereby proclaim that the day after Halloween is Leftover Candy Bark Day.

Use whatever candy appeals to you. If you’re not sure if certain combinations work (Junior Mints and Peanut Butter Cups, for example), pop them into your mouth and see how they blend.

If you need to round out the ingredients, add whatever you have at home: baking chips, cookie pieces, nuts, potato chips, pretzels, shredded coconut, and so on.

You’ll also need a base chocolate to hold all the pieces. You can use milk, semisweet or white chocolate. We bought two bags of Guittard semisweet chips and one bag of white chocolate chips at our supermarket.

What should you do with the finished bark?

  • Bring it into work or school.
  • Give some to anyone who didn’t participate in trick-or-treating.
  • Serve it on game day.
  • Keep it as your own stash, enjoying a piece per day.

    Ingredients For About 2 Pounds/30 Servings

    This is just a guideline; use whatever you have. The ingredients below focus on peanut butter-flavored candies. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour.


  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun-size bars), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Heath candy bars (or 6 fun-size bars), cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces or a mix

    1. LINE a 12 x 12-inch* baking pan or a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. PLACE the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until it is completely melted and smooth.

    3. POUR the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread it into a thin layer (¼-inch thick yields about a 12×10-inch rectangle*).

    4. SPRINKLE the melted chocolate with the chopped Butterfingers, Heath bars, peanut butter cups and honey roasted peanuts, making sure all pieces touch the melted chocolate so they adhere. Lightly press down on them as an extra effort to make sure the candy adheres to the chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    5. MELT the white chocolate using the same method as the bittersweet chocolate in Step 2, until completely smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the chilled bark in a zigzag pattern.

    6. SCATTER the M&Ms and/or Reese’s Pieces over the white chocolate drizzle, and again press to make sure the candy adheres to the melted white chocolate. Chill again until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.



    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/halloween candy bark browneyedbaker 230

    TOP PHOTO: Add cookies to your Halloween Bark. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Peanut-oriented bark (recipe above). Photo courtesy BrownEyed Baker via Bon Appetit.

    7. CUT or break the bark into irregular pieces and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place or in the fridge.

    *You can use whatever size pan or sheet you have. You don’t have to spread the chocolate to cover the entire area. Just keep it 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick and the candies pressed into it will add the heft.


    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky

    Serpent's Bite Bottle

    Good enough to tote in a flask. Photo
    courtesy Spirits Marque One.


    Flavored shots are trending, and our favorite this season is Serpent’s Bite Apple Cider Flavored Whisky.

    It does for whisky what so many distillers have done for vodka: infuses a delectable layer of flavor.

    And Serpent’s Bite is the flavor of fall. It will appeal to fans of whisky and hard apple cider alike. It’s very smooth with a fine balance of sweet, crisp apple cider flavors with the whisky. The latter is distilled from corn and rye, which are blended during distillation and then infused with the apple cider flavors.

    Serpent’s Bite was made to be enjoyed in a neat shot, straight up with a slice of apple, or in a mixed-based shooter.

    At 35% ABV/70 proof, it’s a bit less alcoholic than your typical shot.

    It’s available in 50 ml (MSRP $1.89), 750 ml (MSRP $15.99) and 1 liter bottles (MSRP $18.99).

    If you want to know anything else about it, too bad. The only things on the one-page website are links to Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds, the latter promoting the hashtag #BiteTheNight.

    Perhaps the only thing to say is: It tastes really good and would be a swell gift for the right folks.

    Spirits Marque One, producer of Serpent’s Bite, is part of Constellation Brands, the holdings of which comprise the world’s largest producer of wine, including Manischewitz and Robert Mondavi. Other alcohol brands among the hundred-plus include Corona beer and Svedka vodka.



    Whisky is the Scottish spelling of whiskey. The alternative spelling was chosen to differentiate the national product from Irish whiskey.

    The “whisky” spelling is used in Canada, Japan and Wales, as well as Scotland.

    In the United States, a 1968 directive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling. However, it allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey.”

    Most U.S. producers prefer to include the “e,” as do we. Without it, it looks like something is missing.

    And another reason to keep the “e”: Irish whiskey predates Scotch whisky. Check out this brief history of whiskey.

    Ironically, distillation was discovered in the 8th century in Persia—a country that has not permitted the sale and consumption of spirits since the 1979 Islamic revolution.


    Serpent's Bite Shot

    Take a sip, bite the apple. Photo courtesy Spirits Marque One.




    HALLOWEEN: Layer Cake With Candy Corn

    Halloween Layer Cake Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/halloween layer cake tasteofhome 230

    TOP PHOTO: Halloween Layer Cake from
    Harry & David. BOTTOM PHOTO: Make your
    own Halloween layer cake with this recipe.
    Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.


    If yesterday’s Spider Web Brownies didn’t blow your cobwebs away, how about a layer cake?

    In addition to Halloween, the recipe below, from Taste Of Home, is also spot-on for October 30th, National Candy Corn Day.

    There are two orange-colored labels and one chocolate layer. You’ll need three 9-inch round cake pans.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, bake time is 30 minutes plus frosting and glaze.


    Ingredients For 12-16 Servings

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (not cocoa drink mix)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 10 drops yellow food coloring
  • 6 drops red food coloring
    For The Frosting

  • 3 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 5-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8 drops yellow food coloring
  • 6 drops red food coloring

    For The Glaze

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Candy corn for garnish

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. CREAM the butter and sugar in a bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

    3. COMBINE the flour, baking powder and salt; add alternately with the milk to creamed mixture. Mix well.

    4. COMBINE the cocoa, water and vanilla; stir in 2 cups of the cake batter. Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch round baking pan.

    5. ADD the orange extract, peel and food coloring to the remaining batter. Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake tests done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks.

    6. MAKE the frosting: In a bowl, beat all frosting ingredients until smooth. Place one orange cake layer on a cake plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with chocolate layer; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with second orange layer. Frost the sides and top of each.

    7. MAKE the glaze: Microwave the chocolate and cream on high 1-1/2 minutes or, stirring once. Stir until smooth; let cool 2 minutes. Slowly pour over cake, letting glaze drizzle down sides. Garnish with candy corn.


    Candy Corn Cake Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/candy corn cheesecake 230

    TOP PHOTO: Edge the cake with rolled wafer cookies and top with candy corn. Recipe from BOTTOM PHOTO: Candy Corn Cheesecake. Recipe from from




    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Soup, In A Pumpkin Or Not

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin stew cristinaferrare 230

    Pumpkin Soup Recipe

    TOP PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin
    terrine. Photo courtesy Cristina Ferrare.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Pumpkin soup in a real
    pumpkin. Photo by G.M. Vozd | IST.


    When was the last time you had pumpkin soup? It seems to have been supplanted by its cousins, acorn squash soup and butternut squash soup.

    The multi-purpose fruit was introduced by the Native Americans to American colonists, who turned it into soups, sides, desserts and beer.

    You can make pumpkin soup a Halloween tradition. Serve it from a scooped-out pumpkin, invest in a pumpkin tureen, or simply serve it from the pot.

    Pumpkin soup is adaptable to different flavors, from anise to chile, curry, and just about any spice on the shelf.

  • Gordon Ramsay tops his with wild mushrooms and shaved Parmesan.
  • A pumpkin-beef soup celebrated the Independence of Haiti in 1803.
  • In Southeast Asia, chunks of pumpkin are served in a clear broth with ground pork, scallions and cilantro.
  • Here are three pumpkin soup recipes we’ve published previously, along with instructions to turn a pumpkin into a tureen.
    The recipe below is from Cristina Ferrare, host of Hallmark Channel’s The Home and Family Show. She flavors the soup with pumpkin pie spices and suggests multiple garnishes so each diner can customize his or her soup. And she uses cream cheese instead of cream, for an even richer soup.

    Whether for sophisticated palates or to warm up the kids prior to trick-or-treating, make pumpkin soup part of your Halloween tradition.
    Trivia: The word pumpkin comes from the Greek pepõn, large melon. The word soup derives from Late Latin suppa, “bread soaked in broth,” from Proto-Germanic sup, “to take liquid.” For many people, yesterdy’s bread soaked in broth was the main meal of the day and also the derivation of “supper.”

    *All squash are native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. They are members of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, and the genus Cucurbita. Pumpkin, acorn and summer squash belong to Curbita pepo; butternut squash is Curbita moschata; hubbard squash and buttercup squash belong to Curbita maxima. Curbita is Latin for “gourd.” Who said taxonomy is dull?


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 1 quart homemade chicken stock or store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) regular or low-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces, divided

    Use as many of these as you like:

  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced thin (remove seeds and pith for less heat)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Olive, pumpkin or walnut oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
  • Croutons


    1. HEAT a saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, then quickly add the onions and scallions. Stir.

    2. TURN the heat down to medium. Sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, cayenne and pumpkin, and mix well.

    3. ADD the chicken stock and stir until all of the ingredients are well blended.

    4. LOWER the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the soup starts to thicken slightly. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock or water, a half cup at a time. Turn off the heat.

    5. FILL a blender halfway with the soup and half of the cream cheese, and blend unit smooth. Pour into the soup pot. Continue the process with the rest of the soup and cream cheese until everything has been blended.

    6. PLACE the soup pot back on the stove and heat through. Serve piping hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream, finely chopped scallions, chopped jalapeño and pomegranate seeds; a drizzle of olive, pumpkin or walnut oil; and the pumpkin seeds (recipe below).


    This recipe is adapted from one from Elise on You can see the step-by-step process with photos.

    With Elise’s technique, first boiling the seeds in salted water allows salt to permeate the seeds, not just coat the outside. If they’re properly toasted and are from small to medium size pumpkins, she notes, they can be eaten shells and all.


  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Olive oil



    Carve the pumpkin, roast the seeds. Top photo courtesy Starling Farms. Bottom hoto courtesy Elise | Simply Recipes.


    1. USE a strong metal spoon to scrape the seeds and strings from the inside of the pumpkin. Place in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds.

    2. MEASURE the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier.

    3. BRING the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Toss the seeds in oil and spread out in a single layer in a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.

    5. BAKE on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds (small pumpkin seeds may toast in 5 minutes, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes). Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over-toasted. When lightly browned…

    6. REMOVE the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack until ready to serve. Test to see if you enjoy the seeds whole. If not, crack to remove the inner seeds.



    HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Spider Web Brownies

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/spider web brownies kingarthur 230

    Brownies for Halloween. If you want to place an edible spider in your web, sandwich two chocolate wafers with icing and add candy eyes and string licorice legs. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    Need to bring something to a Halloween party? How about a twist on that party favorite, chocolate brownies?

    This recipe for Spider Web Brownies is from King Arthur Flour, the source of everything wonderful for baking. Prep time is 18 to 22 minutes, baking time is 28 to 30 minutes.


    Ingredients For 24 Pieces
    For The Brownies

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups dark cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
    For The Spider Web

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flourr
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon mint flavoring

    Notes Prior To Preparation

  • The order in which the ingredients are mixed is important.
  • The cream cheese for the web must be soft, so the sugar and flour can be incorporated smoothly.
  • Be sure there are no lumps in the mixture BEFORE adding the egg yolk and flavoring to the web ingredients. If you forget, you can press the mixture through a strainer to get rid of lumps, but it’s a lot of work.
  • Note that the image above shows a round spiderweb, while the directions and step-by-step photos show a 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan. You can make either shape from the same recipe. To make round spider web brownies, divide the batter into two 8″ round cake pans.
  • Here are step by step photos of how the cream cheese web is made.


    1. MAKE the brownie base. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan or two 8″ round cake pans.

    2. CRACK the eggs into a bowl; add the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and vanilla and beat at medium speed for about 4 minutes.

    3. MELT the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot but not bubbling, 110°F to 120°F. It will become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will help produce a shiny top crust on the brownies.

    4. ADD the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth. Add the flour and chips, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the pan(s).


    Mummy Brownies

    More Halloween brownies: round, bite-size, wrapped in fondant, by Blissful Brownies. Available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma.

    5. MAKE the “spider web.” Combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour in a small bowl, and mix until smooth. Add the egg yolk and optional flavoring, mixing until smooth once again. Transfer the mixture to a disposable pastry bag and cut just the very tip off the end.

    6. PLACE a small pool of the mixture in the center of the brownie batter. Draw concentric circles around the pool, about 1 inch apart, moving out from the center. Once the circles are drawn, take a table knife, wet the tip, and draw it back and forth through the circles. The knife will draw the cream cheese filling into arcs. When the arcs are finished…

    7. USE the remaining filling in the pastry bag to trace the path where the knife traveled, to create the spokes of the web.

    8. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, until the brownies just barely pull away from the edge of the pan. The center will rise while baking, but will sink back level once the brownies are cool. Remove them from the oven and cool before cutting.

    When testing to see if brownies are done, insert a cake tester into the center of the pan, digging around just enough to see the interior. You should see moist crumbs, but no uncooked batter. You’ll be left with a small divot in the center of the brownies; cover it up with a dab of the cream cheese frosting.



    RECIPE: Pumpkin-Apple French Toast

    For seasonal brunching, we like this Pumpkin-Apple French Toast by Serena Wolf of the blog Domesticate-Me, sent to us by grocery delivery service

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    This recipe works best with slightly stale (day-old) bread.For a richer French toast, replace half of the milk with half-and-half. If you don’t want to use butter, substitute coconut milk.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The French Toast

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée (unseasoned)
  • 1 cup milk (substitute unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 1¼-inch slices brioche or challah
  • Butter for frying

    Apple French Toast

    Pumpkin French toast topped with sautéed cinnamon apples. Photo courtesy Domesticate Me | Peapod.


    For The Apple Topping

  • 1 tablespoon or butter
  • 3 apples (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or mix), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

    Honeycrisp Apple

    A Honeycrisp apple. Photo courtesy Rainier Fruit.



    1. COOK the apples. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the apples, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tender, and then stir in the maple syrup. Cook for 1 minute. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. (If you prefer very soft apples, cook them for 10-12 minutes before adding the maple syrup.)

    2. WHISK together the eggs, pumpkin purée, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices in a large baking dish (at least 9”x13”).

    3. PLACE the slices of bread in the custard mixture and let soak for 5 minutes, turning over the slices halfway through, until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the bread. Gently press on the bread a few times during the soaking process to help it absorb the custard. Meanwhile…


    4. HEAT a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Add a butter to the griddle/skillet. When melted, carefully remove the bread from the custard and place on the griddle/skillet. You’ll probably need to do this in two batches. Cook for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Add another bit of butter, flip the French toast, and cook for another 3 minutes or until golden brown.

    5. TRANSFER the French toast to plates and top with the warm apples. Serve with a pitcher of maple syrup on the side.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Jell-O As Elegant Gélee

    Jello Mold

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow jello jellomoldmistress 230

    How can you dis them? Retro-style Jell-O
    molds from See the
    photos below for shaping without molds.


    Check online and you’ll find that more people are horrified by retro Jell-o molds than embrace them.

    Yet, these gelatin works of art, that became de rigeur party fare in the 1950s, get a bad rap. Seriously, what’s wrong with different flavors of Jell-O and fruit layered in an attractive mold?

    They are very tasty, thank you, and enable the cook to exercise creativity. If the media mentioned, say, that they were a favorite at the Kardashian or Brangelina household, molds and Jell-O would be flying off the shelves.

    Sugar-free Diet Jell-O provides a low-calorie dessert option. And a holiday offers the opportunity to use theme colors.

    Maybe ditch the brand name, Jell-O, and the generic term, gelatin, when presenting the dish. Call it something that sounds like a sophisticated dessert. We prefer the French name for a gelatin dish, gelée (zhel-LAY) or gélatine (zhay-la-TEEN), which identifies the product, gelatin.

    Trivia: The name comes from the Latin gelare, to freeze.

    Make this harvest-colored Ginger Gelée with the taste of fall. The recipe was adapted from


    As you can see in the photo below, you don’t need to make the dish in a mold. Make the gelée in a baking pan and cut it into elegant rectangles. Or make a layered gelée in glasses, as Martha Stewart did in the second photo below.


  • 1/4 cup peeled, fresh ginger, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 two-gram gelatin sheets, softened in cold water-or-apricot or mango Jell-O
  • 1 quart bottled or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped-or-a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, strained
  • Optional: food color
  • Garnish: raspberry, pineapple dice, candied orange peel, mint or tarragon leaf or other contrasting garnish (for kids, try candy corn)


    1. FILL a small bowl halfway with ice cubes and water. Put the ginger in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain and transfer the ginger to the ice-water bath; let cool. Repeat this process two more times, starting with cold water in the pot each time.

    2. SOFTEN the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water. Lift the gelatin out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove the excess moisture.

    3. BRING the blanched ginger, water, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin has melted. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve in a large bowl; discard the ginger and vanilla bean pod.

    4. COOL the liquid to room temperature, then whisk in the lime juice. Adjust the color as you like with food color (1 drop red + 2 drops yellow = orange, or see this chart). Pour the liquid into a 1-quart mold or an 8- by 8-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set.

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory*, gelatin-like dish made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the invention of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare and thus a dish for the wealthy, requiring days to boil down and clarify natural gelatin to make the aspic set. The aspic was shaped in an elaborate mold, to be admired by the guests.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ginger gelee elegant affairs 230


    TOP PHOTO: Gelée cut into elegant rectangles. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gelée in glasses. Photo courtesy


    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (in Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York. Alas, sales were slow and one day, Woodward sold Sam Nico the business for $35.
    Finally, Success

    In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000—more than $6 billion in today’s dollars. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., replacing the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. The next flavor, Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930. Recipes printed on the boxes—including molds—brought more users into the fold.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. Today there are 21 flavors of regular Jell-O and eight sugar-free flavors, plus puddings and snacks in both categories.

    There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

    *Molded sweet gelatin mixes were called gelatin salads.



    HALLOWEEN: Jack o’ Lantern Nacho Cheese Ball Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cheese ball cookingchannelTV 230sq


    Make a Halloween cheese ball. TOP PHOTO courtesy The Cooking Channel BOTTOM PHOTO courtesy Snackworks.


    It’s easy to make a cheese ball: combine room temperature cream cheese with other ingredients in a bowl or mixer and blend; then form into a ball and coat with shredded cheese or seasonings.

    This recipe has Mexican seasonings, but you can make any cheese ball recipe you like.

    TIP: It is better to shred your own Cheddar, as tempting as it might be to buy pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded has a different texture, from the additives used to keep the shreds from sticking together in the bag.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, chilling time is 2 hours.



  • 2 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons minced onions
  • 2 tablespoons prepared salsa (any kind)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno (without seeds, unless you want it spicy, then include the seeds)
  • 12 orange colored corn chips or Ritz crackers*, crushed
  • 1 stem of a green bell pepper or a celery stalk for the pumpkin stem
  • Blue corn chips or black bean chips, crackers for serving
    *Whichever you use, you’ll have the rest of the bag or box to serve with the cheese ball.



    1. CRUSH the corn chips in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the cream cheese, Cheddar, onions, salsa, cumin and jalapeño into the bowl of a mixer and blend thoroughly. Form into a pumpkin-like shape and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. You may find it neater to put the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, and form the ball from the outside of the plastic.

    3. BEFORE serving, roll the cheese ball in the crushed corn chips. Arrange the cheese ball on a plate, and press the bell pepper stem or celery stalk into the top.

    4. MAKE a jack o’ lantern face, if desired, with pieces of break off pieces of blue corn chips/black bean chips to form a jack o’ lantern face. The chip pieces should adhere to the pumpkin cheese ball if you gently press them onto it, but you can also glue them on using a small dab of the plain yogurt or sour cream.


    Halloween Jack O Lantern Glowing Pumpkin. FOR DAILY TRAVEL DO NOT USE

    The inspiration: a jack o’ lantern. Photo courtesy PlayBuzz.

    5. SERVE the cheese ball with black bean chips, crackers and spreading knives.

    Pumpkins carved into jack o’ lanterns are an Irish-American tradition. But for centuries before any Irish immigration, jack o’ lanterns were carved from beets, potatoes and turnips and placed in windows of homes in what is now Great Britain, to ward off evil spirits on Halloween.

    The jack o’ lantern is named after Stingy Jack, a fellow of Irish myth. He invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but was too cheap to pay even for his own drink.

    So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin, which Jack would use to buy their refreshments.

    Jack was not only stingy; he was a cheat. Once the Devil had turned himself into a coin, Jack simply pocketed it. No drinks were had that evening, but Jack was one coin richer. Clever Jack had placed the coin next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

    Jack eventually freed the Devil, under conditions including that, after Jack died, the Devil would not claim his soul.

    When Jack died, however, God would not allow his disreputable soul into heaven. Jack then tried to get into hell. The Devil, who had previously committed not to claim Jack’s soul, would not let him in.

    But the Devil was kind enough to send Jack off into the dark with a burning coal to light his way. To carry it, Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip. The spirit of “Jack of the Lantern,” subsequently shortened to “Jack O’ Lantern” (and evolving to the lower case jack o’lantern) has been roaming the Earth ever since.

    In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into potatoes and turnips, and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets were used.

    Immigrants brought the jack o’ lantern tradition to the U.S., where they discovered that the native pumpkin made the biggest, scariest and best jack-o’-lanterns.



    HALLOWEEN: Best Chocolate Witch

    Chocolate Witch

    Bewitching in dark or milk chocolate. Photo
    courtesy Li-Lac Chocolates.


    We’ve been looking around, and think we’ve found the best chocolate witch for Halloween. Eight inches tall and weighing in at 14 ounces of solid chocolate, the Big Halloween Witch from Li-Lac Chocolates is our favorite this season.

    There are many nifty chocolate molds around, but we like the garments and expression of this particular paranormal practitioner of magic. With her crooked smile, flowing robe and pointed hat, carrying her broomstick and jack-o’-lantern, she’s almost too cool to eat.

    The chocolate witch is made fresh to order in milk or dark chocolate, and is certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

    Get yours at, or at the company’s retail stores in New York City.

    The 90-year-old chocolatier has been delighting New Yorkers for generations. We love to sneak in for a bite; or, in the case of this witch, many bites.


    “Guising” traditions began as a Christian practice in the Middle Ages, when children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas (All Saints Day, November 1st, the day after Halloween). They begged for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers for the dead (the latter called “souling”).

    That tradition was ported to the U.S., with children going door to door for treats in exchange for reciting a poem or singing a song. Bonfires, a European tradition on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), were also held.
    The night before Halloween came to be called Mischief Night, when the neighborhood youth would sow some wild oats. Front gates were removed, windows were soaped and outhouses were tipped over [source].

    The term “trick or treat” didn’t emerge until the 1920s. The first printed reference is found in a newspaper from 1927 [source].

    While today the “trick” portion of trick-or-treat is usually an idle threat, it began with youthful participants who insistently rang doorbells and promised worse (knocking over trash cans, sticking a pin in the bell so keep it ringing, papering the house) if they did not get a treat. The residents paid the price in candy or other treats, and the costumed visitors went on to the next house.

    Individual trick-or-treating evolved in some locales in the 1960s and 1970s, into community events for the whole family, house parties for kids, and other activities that circumvented the need to send children to strange houses (and the reverse, to avoid having to opening one’s door to strangers).



    For hundreds of years, Halloween came and went with no candy! Costumed children going door-to-door received everything from homemade cookies and cake to fruit, nuts, coins and toys.

    It wasn’t until the 1950s that candy manufacturers began to promote their products for Halloween.

    In the 1960s, following a hoax that miscreants had inserted pieces of glass into apples and other treats, factory-made, wrapped candy became the only acceptable treat to hand out. Producers of the most popular candies made miniatures, making a household’s candy giveaway more affordable.

    Here’s some trivia about popular Halloween treats:


    Chocolate Pumpkins

    Chocolate pumpkins from Woodhouse Chocolate.


  • Candy corn: Candy corn was invented in the 1880s in Philadelphia by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company. He didn’t trademark it, so other companies produced their own versions. The Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), has been making candy corn since 1898.
  • Hershey’s: The first Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar was produced in 1900; Hershey’s Kisses followed in 1907. Chocolate, which had previously had been a luxury item, became affordable for average Americans.
  • Reese’s: In 1917, Harry Burnett Reese joined the Hershey Company as a dairyman and later worked in the factory. He began making candies in his home basement, and ultimately left Hershey to built his own factory. He invented in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in 1928. Full circle: In 1963, Hershey acquired the H.B Reese Candy Company.
  • Mars: In 1923, a Minnesota candy maker, Frank Mars, launched the Milky Way Bar. It was followed by Snickers in 1930 (reportedly named for his favorite horse) and Three Musketeers in 1932. Frank’s son Forrest Mars joined the company, had a falling out with his father, relocated to England and created the Mars Bar.
  • Kit Kat: The Kit Kat Bar first appeared in England in 1935, known as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp. In 1937 it was rechristened the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp said to be named after a venerable London literary and political group, the Kit-Cat (or Kit Kat) Club. The brand was acquired by Switzerland-based Nestlé, which debuted the Nestlé Crunch Bar in the late 1930s.
  • M&Ms: In 1941, Forrest Mars launched M&Ms. He had anticipated that World War II would engender a cocoa shortage, so he partnered with Bruce Murrie, son of a Hershey executive, to get access to a sufficient supply. M&Ms stands for Mars & Murrie.



    PRODUCT: Pumpkin Design Loaf Pan


    This Nordic Ware loaf pan makes plain cake look lovely. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    With the disclosure that we love to eat cake, and can enjoy a slice a day, we actually prefer loaf cakes to elaborately iced and filled cakes. We can have our cake and eat it, too, because we convince ourself that a loaf cake is better for you.

    (In fact, because there’s no extra sugar- and butter-laden filling and frosting, it is a bit better. A bit.)

    That’s why we allowed ourself to buy another loaf pan. This intricately sculpted pan adds autumnal beauty to a banana bread, carrot cake, chocolate loaf, pound cake, pumpkin bread, spice bread, zucchini cake….

    Not to mention, cornbread soda bread and other homemade loaves.

    All you have to do is buy the pan and pour in the batter. The beautiful Nordic Ware pan—an exclusive to Williams-Sonoma—will take over.


    You can top the cake with a simple glaze or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, but we think the plain relief of pumpkins and vines is lovelier.

    The pumpkin loaf pan is made of durable cast-aluminum, which ensures even baking. The nonstick finish guarantees your cake will release easily, and clean-up will be a breeze.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma stores or online.



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