🎃 Countdown to #Halloween 🎃

Only 1 more day until #Halloween2017!!

Here are four super easy, last-minute recipes:


Red Velvet Hot Chocolate - an easy and spooky Halloween drink! | From SugarHero.com

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate and Almond Witch Finger Cookies

Original can be found on sugarhero.com.

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate –

If you’d like a sweeter hot chocolate (or a brighter red color) you can substitute milk chocolate for some or all of the dark chocolate, or replace some of the dark chocolate with white chocolate.  This recipe yields about 3 cups.

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  20 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-2 tsp red gel food coloring (I used Americolor Super Red)


  1. Place the milk and cream cheese in a blender and blend them together until smooth.  (If you have a stick blender, you can just place them in a saucepan and blend them together right in the pan.)
  2. Pour the milk-cream cheese mixture into a medium saucepan, and add the chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt.  Place over medium heat and warm the milk, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and your mixture is smooth.  Whisk in the red food coloring, adding more until you get a color you like.  Serve hot!
  3. Red Velvet Hot Chocolate can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.

Almond Witch Finger Cookies –

If you want to make regular sugar cookies, instead of this almond version, replace the almond meal with an additional 3/4 cup (3 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour, and either omit the almond extract, or replace it with lemon, orange, coconut, etc.  Yield: about 48 cookies

Prep Time:  1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour 40 minutes


  • 8 oz butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 lb 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 2/3 oz 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 48 whole blanched almonds (see Note below)
  • 1-2 tsp red gel food coloring (I used Americolor Super Red)


  1. Combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat them together on medium speed for about 1 minute, until fluffy and well-combined.  Add the egg and both extracts, and beat on medium-low speed.  It is natural for the mixture to look separated at this point.
  2. Whisk together the flour, almond meal, and salt in a separate bowl.  With the mixer running on low, add the flour to the dough, and mix just until most of the flour streaks disappear.  Stop the mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl very well.
  3. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap.  Chill the dough for an hour, until firm.  The dough can be kept for several days in the refrigerator if you want to make it in advance.
  4. While you wait for the dough to chill, paint the almonds red with food coloring.  Use a small food-safe paintbrush and red gel coloring, and paint the top of each almond until it is bright red.  Let them sit on a sheet of paper towel and dry.  The almonds can be painted several days in advance.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.  Take a walnut-sized ball of dough, (if you have a scale, I used about .75 oz per cookie) and roll the dough between your palms until it is a long thin snake, about 4 inches long.  Place it on the baking sheet and press a red almond into one end for the fingernail.  Press your finger about halfway down the dough to widen it for the knuckle.  Use a toothpick to press horizontal lines into the cookie under the almond, and across the knuckle.  Repeat until all of your cookies are formed.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.  They shouldn’t have much color—maybe a little darkening around the edges.  Cool completely on the baking sheet.  These cookies keep well when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  They are a little delicate because of the almonds, but if some fall off during storage, you can always stick them on using a little melted candy coating as glue.


If you can’t find blanched almonds, you blanch your own regular almonds.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the almonds, and let them boil for 60 seconds.  Strain the almonds, run them under cool water, then squeeze them between your fingers to quickly remove the almond skins.  Pat them dry before coloring them red for this recipe.


“ Ingredients:
• ½ cup (1 stick butter)
• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
• 2 heaping cups miniature marshmallows (or 12 large)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 6 drops each green and yellow food coloring
• 8 cups...

Ghostbusters Green Slimed Popcorn

Original can be found on nerdyrecipes.tumblr.com.  Yield:  8-10 large servings.


  • ½ cup (1 stick butter)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 heaping cups miniature marshmallows (or 12 large)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 drops each green and yellow food coloring
  • 8 cups popped popcorn


  1. Place butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a 3-quart sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add marshmallows and vanilla extract.  Stir until smooth.
  3. Add the green and yellow food coloring to create desired color.
  4. Put the popcorn in a large bowl and pour the “green slime” marshmallow mixture over the popcorn.  Stir with a large spoon until coated.  Cover until ready to serve.  Store in an airtight container.


Halloween Pumpkin Punch // HonestlyYUM

Halloween Pumpkin Punch

Original can be found on honestlyyum.com.


For the punch

  • 750 ml bottle of spiced rum (since I am sober, I choose a non-alcoholic substitute)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup spiced syrup
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups sparkling water
  • cinnamon sticks (for garnish)
  • dry ice (for decorating, optional)
  • large pumpkin or punchbowl

For the spiced syrup

  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken into pieces)
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 1/2 nutmeg (cracked)


For the spiced syrup

  1. Add the spices to a small saucepan over medium heat.  Shake the spices back and forth so that they do not burn.
  2. As soon as the spices become toasty and aromatic, add the water and sugar.  Stir continuously to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a simmer and turn the heat to low.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  3. Cool to room temperature before using.

For the punch

  1. In a large bowl, add the spiced rum, orange juice, lemon juice, spiced syrup and pumpkin puree.  Stir to combine. 
  2. Once combined, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher and chill until ready to serve.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large bowl into your hollowed pumpkin.  Be sure your bowl is safe to handle dry ice.  I used a metal bowl.  Next, use tongs to fill the bottom of the bowl with dry ice, and cover with a slightly smaller bowl.  This bowl will hold your punch.  Again, make sure both bowls are safe for dry ice.  Certain materials will shatter when exposed to dry ice.
  4. Pour the mixture into the punchbowl.  Add the sparkling water and stir to combine.
  5. Now for the fun part.  Carefully pour hot water into the bottom bowl so that it contacts the dry ice, thus activating the vapors.
  6. Guests can ladle the punch into their glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick.  Remember to give it a stir as you serve, as the ingredients will naturally separate over time


The length of time the smoky effect will last depends on how much dry ice you use, how hot the water is, and consequently how quickly the ice melts.  To keep the effect going, you will need to replenish the dry ice as it melts.

candy corn cookies.. I'm so making these, but only once a year!

And finally, what to do with those candy corns??  Make cookies with them!

Candy Corn and White Chocolate Softbatch Cookies

The original can be found on averiecooks.com.

  • Yield:  about 20 medium cookies
  • Total Time:  3+ hours, for dough chilling
  • Prep Time:  10 minutes
  • Cook Time:  8-9 minutes


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soften
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups candy corn (1o to 11 ounces)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (or salted peanuts)


  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the first 5 ingredients (through vanilla) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the next 5 ingredients (through optional salt), and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute; don’t over mix.
  3. Add the candy corn, white chocolate chips (or peanuts), and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two-tablespoon mounds (I made 20).  Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking.  Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.  Important note – strategically place candy corn so that it’s not baking directly on the cookie sheet because it will melt, burn, or turn runny if it is.  The candy corn pieces need to be in the interior of the cookies, shielded and buffered by dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat, or spray with cooking spray.  Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly under-cooked, pale and glossy in the center.  Do not overbake because cookies will firm up as they cool.  Baking longer than 10 minutes could result in cookies with overly browned undersides.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 4 months.  Unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Countdown to #Halloween

Only 3 more days until #Halloween2017!

Here’s an incredible chocolate, salted caramel cake, perfect for your party!  This is not a quick and easy cake, but is well worth it.  It is also a bit messy.  As for the apples on the top, use small apples that will be less likely to sink into the cake, or serve them on the side; if you choose to sit them atop the cake, be sure to remove them before slicing.  Also, it is important to let the caramel cool slightly before pouring it over the cake.  This will help the caramel thicken up and also prevent the cake from melting.  Pay attention to the chill times in the fridge, they are important for the cake, frosting, and caramel to set properly.  The original recipe can be found on halfbakedharvest.com

Salted Caramel Apple Snickers Cake

  • Prep Time:  1 hour
  • Cook Time:  45 minutes
  • Total Time:  4 hours
  • Servings:  ONE 3-LAYER CAKE


  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee hot (or warm apple cider)

Salted Caramel

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup honey or corn syrup
  • 1 cup cider
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + flakey salt for sprinkling
  • 3 your favorite SMALL apples * I used granny smith and honeycrisp
  • 6 twigs or wooden sticks

Snickers Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter not the oily kind
  • 1/3 cup salted caramel ingredients above
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts chopped + more for garnish
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


To make the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch (or 9 inch) round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper, then butter/spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine the flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer) beat together the eggs, canola oil, apple sauce, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low until there are no longer any clumps of flour.  Add the hot coffee and mix until combined. Batter should be pourable, but not super thin.
  5. Pour the batter among the 3 cake pans and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center.  Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan.  Grab 3 large flat plates, line them with wax or parchment paper and invert the cakes onto the paper lined plates.  Cover and let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Caramel + Frosting

  1. Place sugar, honey, and apple cider in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil; boil, without stirring, 9 minutes or until light golden in color.  Add the heavy cream, butter and vanilla, slowly stirring into pan.  Boil for 10-15 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 210 degrees F., stirring frequently.  Remove the sauce from heat and add the salt.  Using a heat proof measuring cup scoop out 1 cup of caramel sauce and allow it to cool.  Cover the remaining sauce and set aside until the cake is ready (I just covered my pot and set it aside overnight).
  2. Now make the frosting, add the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar to the bowl of stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer).  Beat together until the butter is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add the peanut butter, 1/3 cup of the cooled caramel sauce and the vanilla, beat, scraping down the sides as needed, another 2 minutes or until there are no streaks.  Stir in the chopped peanuts.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Place 1 layer of cake, flat side up, on a plate or cake stand.  Drizzle the cake with a little salted caramel sauce (from the reserved 1 cup, not from the pot of caramel).  With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.  Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and drizzle with caramel.  Spread the frosting evenly on the top.  Add the final layer of cake and drizzle with the remaining caramel.  Frost the top and sides of the cake.  Don’t worry about it being too perfect as you will be covering most of it up.  Place the cake in fridge.
  2. To make the chocolate coating.  In a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate and cream.  Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring between each until melted.  Allow the sauce to cool 3-5 minutes, and then pour the sauce onto the middle of the cake and spread to just the sides, allow the sauce to drip down the sides of the cake.  Place the cake in the fridge preferably overnight, but at least 1 1/2 hours.  You need the chocolate to be completely set and the frosting firm.

To Finish

  1. Once the cake is cool, grab that reserved caramel sauce in the pot.  Place it back over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.  Boil for 15-20 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads between 220-230 degrees F (I let mine go to 225 and it was perfect).  Remove the sauce from the stove and let is cool 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often.  Make sure the caramel does not become too stiff.  If it stiffens too much you will not be able to dip the apples.  While the sauce cools, push the twigs or wooden sticks into the top of the apples.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. When the caramel has cooled (it should be a little thicker now, but still pourable), pour about half the caramel over the cake and allow it to fall down the sides of the cake.  Working quickly, dip the apples into the remaining caramel and place the in the center of cake.  Sprinkle the cake with flakey salt and peanuts.  Make room in the fridge for the cake and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.  The caramel should never get completely hard, but should be more of a soft firm.  Once the caramel is firm, store the cake in the fridge until ready to serve.  Allow the cake to sit 15 minutes at room temp before serving.  Please not that this is delicate and with all the toppings it is a bit tricky to slice.  Your slices will not be perfect.



Countdown to #Halloween

Only 4 days until #Halloween2017!!

Here’s an Iced Pumpkin Cookie recipe from allrecipes.com.  It was suggested to line the cookie sheets with aluminum foil to help with even cooking and retaining moisture.  It was also noted that since these cookies are very soft and moist, that storing them in an airtight container makes them quickly get mushy.  Check below the recipe instructions for a few ways to change up the basic recipe.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

  • Prep
  • Cook
  • Ready In


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar.  Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.  Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
  4. To Make Glaze:  Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Some variations include:

  • replacing part or all of the white sugar with light brown sugar
  • adding a little extra sugar if you like sweet cookies (since the cookie part is not super sweet)
  • using 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the spices listed
  • adding cinnamon to the glaze
  • completely omitting the glaze, or making a cream cheese based glaze/icing
  • using the whole can of pumpkin and increasing the amount of spices