This is my favorite time of the year, and I love to make treats, even if those treats have nothing to do with the holiday of Halloween. While I have much respect for those who do not celebrate Halloween in any shape or form, I admit to being one of those people who loves to answer the door to see kids and teens dressed in costume, holding out their trick-or-treat bags.
I do not live where kids go door to door, however, so sometimes I have to borrow my mom’s house, as she lives on a real street. If you would like to make some fun treats, I hope there are some recipes included here that will appeal to you. And for those who shy away from all things Halloween, the recipes can be modified to suit your needs. For example, a whipped cream ghost can easily be made into a non-descript whipped cream glob. It’s the taste that matters.
Pumpkin cheesecake bars
20 creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch-square pan with foil so that foil overhangs sides. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.
2. To make the crust: Place cookies in food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter and process again, just a pulse or two. Press the buttered crumbs into the prepared pan, pressing evenly. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until firm, then cool slightly.
3. To make filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until mixture becomes smooth. Beat in pumpkin, then eggs, 1 at a time. Add vanilla, flour, spice and salt until well mixed.
4. Pour pumpkin mixture into pan, place pan on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Pour hot water into baking sheet until nearly filled. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cheesecake is set around edges but jiggles slightly in the center.
5. Remove pan from baking sheet and cool completely on a rack. Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate at least 3 hours or until firm.
6. If you want to make ghosts on top, pipe whipped cream in a circular pattern, building up to a ghost shape. Use mini chocolate chips for ghostly eyes. Makes 12 servings.
1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 to 10 wooden sticks
8 to 10 medium tart apples
1. Insert 1 wooden stick into each apple. In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook the mixture, stirring, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees, which is the firm ball stage. This will take 30 to 40 minutes, and if you prefer a softer caramel, cook it to a few less degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
2. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture, turning to coat the entire apple. If you wish to coat with chopped nuts or candies, use them now before the caramel sets up.
3. Set apples on waxed paper that has been generously coated with butter. Allow apples to set. If you want to make a double batch, start over as it is not recommended to double the recipe in one batch.
Caramel corn treats
5 cups caramel corn
2 cups mini pretzels
1 cup of mini fish crackers or other favorite type of tiny cracker
1 1/4 cups peanut-butter flavored candy pieces, such as Reese's Pieces
1 package (10.5-oz.) miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1. In a large bowl, mix caramel corn, mini pretzels, crackers and 1 cup of the peanut butter pieces.
2. In a large bowl that is microwave safe, melt marshmallows and butter; add vanilla and stir until mixture is very smooth and well blended. Pour over caramel corn mixture and stir until it is well coated.
3. Press mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle the remaining peanut butter candies over the top and press slightly. Allow to stand until set. Cut into bars. Makes 2 dozen treats.
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree and beat at medium speed until all is mixed well, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. In a shallow bowl, place remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. You will use this to roll the cookie dough in.
Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1 1/2-inch ball. Roll the dough ball in the sugar mixture, and place it on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart
4. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Makes about 4 dozen.