The following recipes by Donata Maggipinto are from her book Halloween Treats: Recipes & Crafts for the Whole Family, and are republished with permission from Chronicle Books, San Fransisco.
CARAMEL APPLES AND PEARS
12 natural licorice sticks, cinnamon sticks, or bamboo skewers, each 6 inches long
6 Lady apples, stems removed
6 Seckel pears, stems removed
2 cups granola
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
The petite lady apples and seckel pears are just right for making kidsize caramel treats. They're easy to eat, too! If children are helping, they can carefully dip the apples and pears in the caramel and granola. An adult should supervise the fun as hot caramel can burn. I use natural licorice sticks (found in natural foods stores) because they look eerie and they're edible, too. If you can't find licorice sticks, substitute cinnamon sticks or bamboo skewers.
Insert a licorice stick, cinnamon stick, or bamboo skewer into the stem end of each apple and pear. Spread the granola on a baking sheet; reserve. Have ready one or more cooling racks or a large sheet of parchment paper for cooling the caramel fruits.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. Add the butter and cream, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel registers 240' F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
One at a time, dip the apples and pears in the caramel, twirling and swirling them to coat completely. Dip the tops in the granola to coat them, then transfer to the cooling rack or parchment paper to cool. As the apples and pears cool, the caramel will set. Store the caramel apples and pears, wrapped in cellophane if desired, in a cool, dry place until ready to serve or up to 2 days.
COCOA COBWEB CUPCAKES
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-process
1 teaspoon baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
11/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttrmilk
For the icing:
2 egg whites 21/2 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
black or dark brown food coloring
Follow this fun technique for creating cobwebs with two different colors of frosting. You can do this on cookies and cakes, too, Kids can line the muffin tins, mix the ingredients, spoon the batter into the muffin cups and, of course, supervise the icing.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Preheat an oven to 350 F. Butter 12 muffin-tin wells or line them with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; reserve.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternately with the buttermilk.
Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of tile cake comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature.
To make the icing, place the egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and orange juice and continue to beat until thick and shiny. The icing should spread easily. If too thick, add more orange juice. If too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.
Transfer one-third of the icing to a small bowl and color with black or dark brown food coloring. Spoon this dark icing into a pastry bag filled with a tip, or pour it into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Now, ice the cupcakes and make the cobwebs: Spoon the white icing into the center of the cupcake and spread with a small spatula or butter knife. Starting at the center of a cupcake, pipe a spiral of the dark icing from the center to the outer edge. Then, drag a sharp knife point from the center of the spiral to the edge of the cupcake. Wipe the knife clean, move about 1/2 inch to the left or right and drag the knife in the opposite direction from the outer edge to the middle of the cupcake. Continue in this way until you have worked your way around the cupcake and formed the cobweb. Repeat witht he remaining cupcakes.
These stained-glass creatures can be hung in a window to catch sunlight or moonlight. Here's a secret: you can eat them, too!
Preheat an oven to 350 F.
Line the bottom and interior sides of the cookie cutters with aluminum foil and brush the foil lightly with the oil. Set on a baking sheet.
Arrange the hard candies in a single layer on the foil bottom of the cookie cutter. Bake until the candies melt, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let cool for I minute, then poke a hole in the top with the wooden skewer. Cool; then pop out the stained glass shapes from th cookie cutter and peel off the aluminum foil. Thread the ribbon through the hole. Hang in a sunny window.
The following two recipes are from Kraft Foods:
COOL SPIDER TREATS: CUPCAKES
One 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip, whipped topping, thawed
Black or chocolate licorice twists
Frost upside-down cupcakes with Cool Whip topping. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles. Insert licorice pieces into tops of cupcakes to create spider legs, bending doown from top.
Top with candies for creepy eyes.
Goblins and Gravestones
These are individual tall plastic cups filled with chocolate pudding. Crushed cookies go on the top. That represents the dirt. You then take a Milano cookie, stick it in halfway, and that's the gravestone. Last but not least, build a dollop of whipped cream next to the gravestone, add two candy eyes, and there is your ghost. You can individualize each cup by writing on the cooking with decorative icing. Very cute and great for a party.
3-1/2 cups cold milk
2 pkgs. (4-serving size) Jell-o Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
1 tub (12 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1 pkg. (16 oz.) chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
Pour cold milk into large bowl; add pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the whipped topping and 1/2 of the cookies. Spoon 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs and 1/2 pudding into 15 individual cups. Top with remaining crumbs. Decorate with remaining whipped topping dropped by spoonful (ghosts) and candy (eyes). Watch the ghosts disappear.