• Ellen Byron

Homemade Halloween Treats

Halloween will look different this year, that's for sure. But we can all still enjoy this special spooky time. Here are two recipes for tasty treats with a Halloween theme.



HAUNTING HALLOWEEN CUPCAKES

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

1 box white cake mix

1 cup pureed cauliflower (*)

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large egg whites

6 oz. nonfat vanilla yogurt (I like Trader Joe’s French Vanilla because it doesn’t have fake sweeteners in it)

FROSTING:

See below.

FOR DECORATING:

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies

Toothpicks and Peeps ghosts (if they’re available)

Candy pumpkins

Coconut

Green food coloring (you can substitute green sprinkles for the coconut and green food coloring)

Stick pretzels (optional)

Cupcake holders

CUPCAKE INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix on slow speed for 30 seconds to blend; then mix on a medium speed for at least two minutes until the ingredients are smooth. Feel free to blend longer if you need to.

Fill cupcake holders 2/3rd full. Bake cupcakes according to instructions on the box. (BTW, ignore the ingredient list on the cake box! These ingredients are a substitute for those).

(*) NOTE: To make the cauliflower puree, cut up a head of cauliflower and steam it until it’s tender. Then puree it in a blender or Cuisinart until it has a smooth consistency (it may not be totally smooth but get it as close as you can). You can also buy riced cauliflower and puree it, which is what I did for this blog post.

Makes 20-24 cupcakes.

FROSTING INSTRUCTIONS:

I’m not a fan of canned frosting but if it makes your life easier, go for it. If you want to make your own chocolate frosting, here’s a recipe inspired by one in The Cake Doctor, by Ann Byrn.

(Note: I make chocolate frosting because I feel like it adds a night-time touch. You can also make vanilla frosting, dye it green, and skip the colored coconut.)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

8 T. butter at room temperature

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup milk (plus additional, if needed to thin the frosting)

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Blend the butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is soft and well-combined. (If you have an electric mixer, run it on low speed.) Stop the machine and add 1 cup powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt to the bowl. Run on low speed to incorporate. Repeat to add the rest of the sugar, adding a little milk if the frosting is too thick or a little confectioner’s sugar if it’s too thin.

Makes approx.. 3 cups of frosting.

DECORATING INSTRUCTIONS:

Frost the cupcakes.

Use green food dye to color coconut and sprinkle it on top of the cupcake so that it resembles grass. (If you don’t like coconut, look for green sprinkles.)

Fill a cake decorating bag pre-set with the smallest tip with about ¼ cup frosting. If you don’t have a cake decorating set, put the frosting into small plastic lunch bag and snip a small corner from the bag. Use the frosting to write “R.I.P.” on a Pepperidge farm Milano cookie, then stick the cookie into the cupcake.

Add a candy pumpkin in front of the “tombstone.” If you want to add a broken “fence” to your decoration, use some of the frosting as “glue” to form the fence from three pretzel sticks. Place in freezer for a few minutes to harden the frosting “glue.”

Sadly, Peeps ghosts aren’t available this year, but if they are, insert a toothpick halfway into a Peeps ghost, then insert the exposed end of the toothpick into the cupcake.

TRANSPORTATION TIP:

Halloween is going to be quite different this year. But if you’re bringing these to a socially-distanced party or bake sale, I used the large plastic cups you get at a store like Smart and Final, flipping the cup over so that the lid served as a base.

Makes 20-22 cupcakes.


Cajun Pecan Cookie “Fingers”

Ingredients

1 cup softened butter

8 tbsp. powdered sugar

2 and ¾ cups flour

¼ tsp. salt

4 T. vanilla

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Frosting of your choice (optional)


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix together to blend. Add the other ingredients and work the dough together with your hands. (Yes, your hands. It’s like you’re making pie crust dough.)

Shape the dough into finger-length cylinders, almost like small cigars. If you want to, you can make a couple of horizontal hashmarks on each cook to replicate the wrinkles on fingers. Place the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 15 minutes.

Either sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar or frost the tips like fingernails turn them into spooky fingers!

Yield: 24-36, depending on the size of the cookies.

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