Kari's top five Halloween treat recipes
Makes 20 S'mores
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 2 to 3 minutes
20 graham crackers
20 jumbo marshmallows or 3 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/4 cup Nutella
Optional: melted chocolate, extra Nutella, or black icing for drawing
Preheat oven to broil setting and move one rack to the top.
Spread about 1 tbsp of Nutella on each graham cracker so a thick layer creates a base. Move them all onto one or two parchment-lined jelly-roll pans.
If using jumbo marshmallows, firmly place them on the crackers and dig them into the Nutella.
If using small marshmallows, grab a small handful and smoosh them onto the cracker so that they stick.
Place pans in the oven on the top rack and watch them like a hawk until the marshmallows start to puff up and brown on the top.
Serve immediately or draw ghost/monster faces on with melted chocolate or black icing.
Pumpkin seed shards
I make a peanut brittle, similar to this one, to top a cake that we serve at work, and it has to be guarded to make sure that people don't snap off little chunks and run away before I can chase them with a chef's knife.
This is another simple and tasty recipe, but you have to watch it carefully and work quickly once things start bubbling. Be very careful not to get any on yourself, because sugar burns are harsh. Go ahead and decorate the brittle before snapping it into pieces, if you like. Sprinkle peanut butter or butterscotch chips, a pinch of kosher salt, or toasted nuts on top when it's still warm, or drizzle it with melted chocolate once cool.
Makes 1 8x12" sheet of brittle
Prep time: 2 minutes
Bake time: 3 to 4 minutes
1/2 lb brown sugar
2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350°F and spread pumpkin seeds onto a large, parchment lined jelly-roll or half-sheet pan. Toast seeds for 3 or 4 minutes, until aromatic but not coloured too much.
Combine sugar and water together in a heavy-bottomed pot and stir while warming up over medium-high heat, until it bubbles rapidly for a minute. If you use a gas stove, don't let the flames climb up the sides of the pot or the syrup will start to burn.
Add the butter and pumpkin seeds, stirring to melt the butter and fully coat the seeds. Let the sugar bubble for another minute or so, then quickly spread it out thinly onto the parchment-lined pan that was used earlier.
Decorate the brittle if you like, and if you have a giant freezer, put the pan inside to solidify the brittle faster. If not, let it cool in a safe place where nobody will unsuspectingly burn themselves.
Autumn-spiced shortbread cookies
This Fall-ariffic version of shortbread cookies is my alternative of choice. Rich, buttery, lightly spiced, and not too sweet, these can be adapted to work with savoury flavours, decorated as much or as little as you want, and are favourites with kids and adults alike. Best of all, the dough keeps well in the fridge for a while, so you can roll it into a log, sheet, or cut out shapes beforehand, and have them ready anytime!
My suggestions for decorations include toasted nuts, melted chocolate, coloured sugar, sprinkles, shredded coconut, dried fruit, and crushed or chopped candy bars.
Makes 3 dozen small cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 12 to 30 minutes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup golden or brown sugar, packed
2 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 pinch salt
Optional: 1 bean's worth of vanilla seeds
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Cream the butter in a high-sided bowl, with an electric mixer for a few minutes until it's light-coloured and easily forms peaks.