Arlene's Cuisine

Halloween is still a couple of weeks away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about special treats to serve your favorite ghouls and goblins.

Donuts were always one of my favorite Halloween treats. My grandma made them and called them “fried cakes.” They were delicious rolled in sugar and served warm.

Another favorite Grandma treat were popcorn balls made out of puffed wheat or rice rather than popcorn. She coated the cereal with a simple syrup, just as you would popcorn balls and wrapped them in waxed paper to hand out to neighborhood trick-or-treaters. I expect you could do the same with Rice Krispies.

A good idea for a Halloween punch is to chill it with frozen “hands” made with Kool Aid- or juice-filled and-frozen rubber gloves. Some gloves have powder in them; these should be turned inside out and rinsed thoroughly before filling. Tie the tops tightly so the liquid doesn’t escape then place in the freezer on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel. When the hands are frozen solid, and just before serving your favorite punch, cut the rubber gloves off with a scissors and place the frozen hands in the punch bowl.

Here are a few more ideas for Halloween treats.


Sour Cream Orange Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 deep-dish 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2¼ teaspoons orange peel, grated and divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice concentrate, thawed

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, milk, pumpkin pie spice, 2 teaspoons orange peel and salt. Mix well. Pour into the pie shell and bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 30 to 35 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, juice concentrate and the remaining orange peel. Add a little orange food coloring if it isn’t orange enough to look like a pumpkin. Spread sour cream topping over the pie. Bake another 8 minutes. Add chocolate chips to make a jack o’lantern face, if desired. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serves 8.


Creepy Caramel Apples

  • 8-10 tart apples
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Wooden sticks

Crushed nuts, crushed cookies, etc. (optional)

Insert wooden sticks into 8-10 apples (you can often find sticks in stores’ hobby departments). Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and milk in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until a candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees. (It may not get that high at our elevation, but it should take about 40 minutes to do this.) When the mixture has reached the consistency of melted caramels, remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Dip apples into the hot caramel mixture and turn to coat. Sprinkle with crushed nuts or crushed cookies and place on buttered waxed paper to set. The caramel sets up, fast so work quickly.


Graveyard Dirt

  • 4½ cups multigrain cereal
  • 2 tablespoons butter or butter-flavored shortening
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Put the cereal in a large bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter or shortening, chocolate chips and peanut butter together, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the mixture over the cereal and mix until cereal is well-coated. Place powdered sugar in a bag, add the cereal mixture and toss to coat. Pour the mixture onto a sheet of waxed paper to cool. Refrigerate until time to serve in a Halloween bowl.


Pumpkin Spice Bars

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 12/3 cups plus ¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (1 teaspoon for Salida’s elevation)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (½ teaspoon for Salida’s elevation)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cream cheese frosting
  • Halloween sprinkles

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 15-by-11-inch (jelly roll) pan with foil. Set aside.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter and ¼ cup sugar and spread into the prepared pan. Smooth the mixture to make an even crust. Bake the crust about 6 minutes and let cool completely. Next, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt. In another bowl, mix the eggs, remaining sugar, pumpkin and oil. Stir the dry mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Spread the pumpkin mixture over the cooled crust and bake about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting. You can drag the tines of a fork through the frosting to make a pattern or dip the back of a teaspoon into the frosting to make a pattern. Sprinkle with the Halloween sprinkles. Makes 24 bars.