THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website,

Archive for Halloween

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Apple Cider Salted Caramels

We love salted caramels: plain sea salt, fleur de sel, gray sea salt, smoked sea salt (see the different types of sea salts).

They aren’t inexpensive: A box of seven smallish squares, chocolate coated and garnished with salt, is $14.00 at Fran’s.

So how about a project for a lazy Sunday: homemade salted caramels? It can also solve holiday gift-giving needs.

This recipe, which adds the seasonal touch of apple cider, was developed by P.J. Hamel for King Arthur Flour. Here are additional photos and tips.

This recipe is made in the classic French style: Salted butter is used and more salt can be added to the caramel, instead of the current vogue for sweet butter with a salt garnishing on top. We prefer the latter, so if you prefer, use unsalted butter in the recipe and garnish the top with sea salt or other fine salt.

The boiled cider that flavors the caramels is simply reduced apple cider or juice. You can make it (instructions are in the recipe that follows) or buy it (King Arthur Flour sells it). If you’re making your own, you can make it up to three months in advance.

Use the extra boiled cider to add flavor to:

  • Baking: Add to baked recipes that use apples: cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies, turnovers. Replace the honey or molasses in recipes for apple cake, gingerbread, spice muffins and similar recipes.
  • Breakfast: Drizzle over French toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles; stir into plain yogurt.
  • Condiment: Add a teaspoon to vinaigrette or barbecue sauce; drizzle over baked apples, crêpes, grilled fruit, ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt; spread on toast or cornbread; give better flavor to store-bought applesauce.

    Apple Cider Caramels

    Apple Cider Salted Caramels

    Try your hand at making caramels. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • Dinner: Glaze grilled vegetables or poultry (brush it on) or add a bit to marinades.

    Ingredients For 64 Caramels

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/2 cup boiled cider*, purchased or made (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice†
    For The Boiled Cider

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour. The yield is 1-1/2 cups.

  • 8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
    See the difference between cider vs. apple juice, below.
    *You can buy ready-made boiled cider from King Arthur Flour and other baking supply retailers.

    †Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice.



    Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

    TOP PHOTO: Homemade boiled apple cider. Photo courtesy Midwest Living. Here’s their
    full recipe. BOTTOM RECIPE: Feeling
    ambitious? Dip your caramels in melted
    chocolate. Photo courtesy Alma Chocolate.



    1. MAKE the boiled cider. BRING the cider to boiling in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 1-3/4 hours. Stir occasionally, until the cider has reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

    2. TRANSFER the boiled cider to a screw-top jar with a mouth at least wide enough to insert a spoon. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The boiled cider will thicken in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature to use in this recipe.

    3. LIGHTLY GREASE an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.

    4. COMBINE the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.

    5. POUR the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Let it stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature before cutting into 1″ squares.

    6. WRAP the caramels: Use 6″ squares of parchment paper. (We had 5-inch squares. The difference is shorter twisted ends.) Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close. If you don’t have parchment paper you can use wax paper, but you need to be careful when twisting the edges because it tears more easily.

    Here’s a very helpful video on how to wrap caramels.



    Since Prohibition, which began in the U.S. in 1920, “cider” has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice. “Hard cider” is used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

  • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
  • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste. It needs to be refrigerated.
  • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.


    RECIPE: White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    For pumpkin season, treat everyone to this White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Fondue from The Melting Pot, with a few modifications from THE NIBBLE.

    Why not make it this weekend? Don’t like to cook? Find the nearest Melting Pot.


    Ingredients For The Fondue

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (look for Green & Black’s, Lindt or other premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Bacardi 151 Rum*
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Optional: chopped graham crackers or white chocolate shavings
    *Bacardi 151 is a brand of highly alcoholic rum, named for its alcohol proof level of 151 (75.5% alcohol by volume or A.B.V.). This is about double the alcohol of conventional rum (35%–40% A.B.V.). You can substitute a liqueur instead; see Step 3 below.


    White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    White chocolate pumpkin fondue, garnished with white chocolate shavings. Photo courtesy The Melting Pot.


    For The Dippers

  • Cake cubes: blondies, brownies, doughnut holes or pieces, loaf cakes (carrot, chocolate, pound)
  • Cookies: amaretti, biscotti, graham crackers, granola bars, lady fingers, meringues, shortbread fingers, tea biscuits
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, dates, figs, mangoes, prunes
  • Fresh fruits: apples, bananas, grapes. mandarins/oranges, pears, pineapple, strawberries

    1. PLACE the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler pot over medium heat, stirring constantly so as not to scorch the chocolate. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in 45 second increments, stirring after each one.

    2. POUR the melted chocolate into a fondue pot. Add the pumpkin purée, blending gently. Taste and add more pumpkin if you like.

    3. ADD the rum to the pot and light with a long match or fireplace lighter. As the rum burns away, carefully stir the mixture together. If you don’t want to purchase 151 rum or flambé, stir the equivalent amount of orange liqueur into the melted chocolate and blend.

    4. SPRINKLE the nutmeg into the pot and gently fold in. The Melting Pot garnishes the top of the fondue with chopped graham crackers, but we prefer to use the graham crackers as dippers.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Pecan Topping

    For holiday season, it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve that quickly turns everyday food into festive food.

    We nominate homemade cinnamon pecan topping, which can be used to garnish both sweet and savory foods. See our list of uses below.

    You can use any nut, but pecan goes particularly well in this type of topping.

    We adapted this recipe from McCormick. It makes 12 servings, 2 tablespoons each. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge.

    Although the McCormick version uses rum flavor, feel free to substitute real rum or whiskey.

    Plan ahead: You can bring a jar of topping as a house gift, or give it as holiday gifts.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 12 minutes.


    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor

    Pecan Topping


    TOP PHOTO: Top a Brie with homemade cinnamon pecan topping Photo by Caroline Edwards from Chocolate and Carrots | BOTTOM PHOTO: Turn a plain scoop of ice cream into a sundae. Photo courtesy


    Pecan Topping

    Keep it in the fridge to pull out whenever you need it. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    1. MIX the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in small bowl until blended. Set aside.

    2. MELT 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low.

    3. STIR the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, rum flavor and the brown sugar mixture into the skillet. Cook, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through.

    4. REMOVE from the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.



  • Breakfast: Top French toast, pancakes, waffles.
  • Desserts: Use as a cake topping or filling; fill crêpes and tartlets; top ice cream, ice cream cake or ice cream pie; garnish blondies/brownies or pie; mix with mascarpone or ricotta to spread on biscotti or shortbread.
  • Hors d’oeuvre: Top regular or baked Brie.
  • Sides: Top a baked sweet potato with pecan topping and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Snack: Mix into yogurt, stir into coffee or tea.


    RECIPE: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

    This fall and Thanksgiving dessert from King Arthur Flour has the wisdom of Solomon. When you can’t decide between pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, go zebra* and combine them into one dessert!

    Prep time is 25 to 33 minutes, bake time is 40 to 45 minutes.


    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Pie, 10-12 Servings

    For The Crust

    Make your favorite pie crust or purchase a deep 9″ prepared crust. You can also use a cheesecake crust of graham crackers or gingersnaps.

  • Cheesecake crust variations
  • Gingersnap crust
    For The Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crushed crystallized ginger (photo below)
    For The Pumpkin Layer

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup light cream or evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin pie cheesecake kingarthur 230L1

    The bottom layer is cheesecake, the top layer is pumpkin pie. Photo courtesy

    *A zebra is a cheesecake bottom and a brownie top, or vice versa. Here’s a recipe.



    Crystallized Ginger

    TOP PHOTO: A slice of Pumpkin Pie
    Cheesecake. Add a pinch of ground ginger
    from the whipped cream. Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO:
    finely diced crystallized ginger. You can buy it at in a small dice for baking. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    For Serving

  • Optional garnish: candied pecans (recipe)
  • Whipped cream (recipe)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    2. REMOVE the crust from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature until it’s warm enough to work with (10 to 30 minutes, depending on how long it’s been refrigerated).

    3. FLOUR your work surface, and roll the crust into a 13″ round. Transfer it to a pie plate that’s at least 9″ wide and 2″ deep. A giant spatula works well for this task. IMPORTANT: Be sure the pan is 2″ deep or all the filling won’t fit. If you find yourself with too much filling, pour it into a ramekin and bake it until the center is set. You’ll have an individual dessert or snack.

    4. GENTLY SETTLE the crust into the plate, and crimp the edges.

    5. MAKE the cheesecake filling: Combine the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar, beating slowly until the mixture is fairly smooth. It may appear grainy, or a few lumps may remain; that’s OK.

    6. STIR in the egg, vanilla and optional ginger. Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

    7. MAKE the pumpkin filling: Whisk together the sugar, salt and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin, cream or evaporated milk and eggs, and whisk gently until smooth. (You don’t want to beat a lot of air into this mixture; just be sure it’s thoroughly combined.)

    8. GENTLY SPOON the pumpkin filling atop the cheesecake layer, filling within 1/4″ of the top of the crust. NOTE: Do this carefully at first, so as to not disturb the cheesecake layer. Once you’ve covered the cheesecake, you can be less careful.


    9. BAKE the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 40 to 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with a crust shield or aluminum foil if they seem to be browning too quickly. The pie is done when it looks set, but still wobbles a bit in the center when you jiggle it. If you have a digital thermometer, the pie will register 165°F at its center when it’s done.

    10. REMOVE the pie from the oven, allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it until serving time. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a pinch of ginger and teaspoon of vanilla.



    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.



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.