Category

Halloween

Monster Cookies

By | Baking + Desserts, Cookies + Brownies, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Listen friends. I have a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had.
What to do with all that Halloween candy! (other than eat it that is.)

Chop it up and stuff in into black and white buttery cookies.

Mic drop. My work here is done.

Monster Cookies

I took my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and added a cocoa half to this treat, plus plenty of Halloween candy and salty pretzels. It is a MONSTER of a cookie.

 

Monster Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 16 cookies

Monster Cookies

These addictive cookies are filled with bits of assorted candy bars (plus pretzels to add a salty crunch).

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 cups chopped candy bars, M&M's, Whoppers and other chocolate candy
  • ½ cup broken pretzel pieces

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Stir in the salt, baking soda and flour until dough forms. Remove and reserve half of the dough. Blend cocoa with dough remaining in mixing bowl.
  2. 2. Gently fold ¾ cup of the candy into the vanilla dough and ¾ cup into the chocolate dough. Use a cookie scoop to make balls of each dough. Cut balls in half; combine a vanilla half and a chocolate half to form each cookie. Press cookies down slightly on baking sheets and top with remaining ½ cup candy and pretzel pieces. Bake until light golden around the edges and still soft in the center, 12 to 13 min. Cool on baking sheet for 2 min, then remove to cool completely. Makes 16 cookies.
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Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2013
Photography William Brinson
Prop Styling Michelle Wong
Food Styling Christine Albano

Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2013
Photography William Brinson
Prop Styling Michelle Wong
Food Styling Christine Albano

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Shriveled Ogre-Nose Pizza

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Bread, Easy Dinners, Entertaining, Fall, Halloween, Healthy + Diet, Holidays + Seasons, Kid Friendly Dinners, Kids, Main Dish, Party Foods, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian | No Comments

Making little kids laugh has got to be one of the best things on the planet. I love when they lose it! Just toss their heads back laughing. It’s so gratifying to know that they are laughing, not out of courtesy, but because they genuinely think it’s funny. (Well at least most kids haven’t honed the skills of manipulation and the courtesy laugh)

My 3 year-old nephew Sawyer is a sucker for gibberish. All I have to do rattle off a nonsensical sentence to him in a language no one understands and he’s a gonner.

If you just read the name of this recipe to kids, I’ll guarantee at least a crinkled nose and grin. But, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a full blown laugh.

It’s the perfect, pre trick-or-treating dinner. Made with store-bought pizza dough, canned tomatoes, creamy ricotta and colorful roasted veggies, it’s simple enough to prepare–even while wearing your witch hat.

Shriveled Ogre-Nose Pizza

Shriveled Ogre-Nose Pizza

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 9 Servings

Calories per serving: 305

Fat per serving: 13.5 g

Roasted-Vegetable Pizza

Ingredients

  • 3 parsnips (about 1 lb), peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 zucchini (about 8 oz)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 bag (1 lb) frozen pizza or bread dough, thawed
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1¼ cups whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried oregano

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cut parsnips into 2- to 4-inch-long by ½-inch-thick sticks; toss with 1 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 15 min.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, cut bell pepper into thin slices. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then into ¼-inch-thick slices. in a large bowl, toss together bell pepper, zucchini, remaining 2 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp salt; add to roasting parsnips on baking sheet. Roast until tender and just golden, about 20 min. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  3. 3. Increase oven to 450°F and place rack in lower third. Sprinkle a baking sheet with 1 tbsp cornmeal; set aside.
  4. 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough and, using, hands, stretch to 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Top with half of each tomatoes, ricotta (in dollops) and roasted vegetables. Bake until cooked through and bottom is golden brown, 15 to 18 min. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make one more pizza.
  5. 5. Transfer pizzas to a cutting board, drizzle with oil and top with oregano.
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Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2008
Photography Evan Sklar
Prop Styling Megan Hedgpeth
Food Styling Susan Vajaranant

Almond Joy In A Jar

By | Baking + Desserts, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

If you must eat Halloween candy, you might as well make it classy.
Oh and these are soooo classy. And tasty. And creamy. And parfait-y.

I layered the best chocolate bar with cake, pudding and cream and called it glamorous. Oh what? You didn’t know Almond Joy was the best chocolate bar? Welp, now you do.

So raid the kids pillowcases for those little minis and dive in.

Almond Joy in a Jar

Auto Draft

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 6

Auto Draft

If you like the classic candy bar, you'll go nuts for this creamy spoonable dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • ½ tsp coconut extract
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix, prepared
  • 2 cups baked chocolate cake, cubed
  • 10 mini Almond Joy bars, chopped
  • Toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Whip cream, sugar and coconut extract until soft peaks form. Fill the bottom of six 10-oz jars or glasses with a few tablespoons of chocolate pudding Add a layer of cake cubes and candy bar pieces, then whipped coconut cream. Top with more pudding. Add another layer of cake and candy bar pieces.
  2. Dollop coconut cream on top and garnish with toasted almonds
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Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2013
Photography William Brinson
Prop Styling Michelle Wong
Food Styling Christine Albano

Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

By | Baking + Desserts, Candy + Treats, Cupcakes, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

These are impressive bombs. You put them on the table and BOOM! Everyone is instantly impressed.

With piles of delicious buttercream, and loads of Halloween candy, you can’t go wrong. Make them ahead too! This meringue buttercream holds really well.

Candy Cupcakes

*One little hint: if you’re not a huge frosting fan, first, don’t tell anyone ’cause you’re crazy, then, top each cupcake with half of a donut hole, and frost over the top. It will create the giant mound that will hold the candy, without the solid frosting situation.

Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes

Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

Bake these in black cupcake liners for a spooky look.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Meringue Buttercream
  • Orange gel paste food coloring
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 24 prepared chocolate cupcakes
  • 3 cups candy corn pieces
  • 6 cups malted milk balls

Instructions

  1. Tint half of the buttercream orange. Stir melted chocolate into the rest of the buttercream until incorporated.
  2. Use a ¼-cup spring-loaded cookie scoop to place a small mound of buttercream on each of the cupcakes. (If you don't have a scoop, mound and smooth ¼ cup buttercream on each cupcake.) Decorate the orange-frosted cupcakes with candy corn, placing candy very close together. Use Malted milk balls to decorate the chocolate frosted cupcakes. Chill cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2013
Photography William Brinson
Prop Styling Michelle Wong
Food Styling Christine Albano

DIY Mummies hold your Mozzarella Sticks for a Halloween Snack

Mozzarella Stick Mummy Bowls

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Craft, DIY, Entertaining, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kid Friendly Dinners, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cute craft alert!!!!

Mozzarella Stick Mummy Bowls

Who doesn’t love to eat a crispy mozzarella stick out of the top of a mummy head? Mozzarella sticks have got to be one of the best, quick, crowd-pleasing snacks around. (Seriously, I made some for my friends on a beach trip this summer and I almost didn’t even get one, they were gone in two seconds!) Also, how perfect are they for a pre trick-or-treating snack? Very perfect.

Kids are typically too excited to eat dinner on Halloween night. Thoughts of a sugar rush just around the corner. Any kid (or adult food blogger like me) would get a kick out of snacking on a toasty cheese stick with “bloody” marinara sauce. They can even help make the googly-eyed mummy bowls!

For instructions click to the Farm Rich site!

Set-up

 

Photos and idea courtesy of Farm Rich

Broken Bones Graveyard Cake

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

If you’re having a classy, spiders-and-witches Halloween party this year, how great would this cake be as the centerpiece of the dessert table?!?!

Broken Bones Graveyard CakeThe meringue bones are easy to prepare. It just takes one or two before you are a pro at piping the simple shape. Then make your favorite red-velvet (for a bloody red inside) or chocolate cake. (You know how I feel about cake mix.)

Broken Bones Graveyard Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 12

Broken Bones Graveyard Cake

Spooky meringue bones top red velvet cake.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 250ºF with two racks centered. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter in a heat-proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved, about 3 min. Remove from heat. With an electric mixer, whisk on medium-high until a stiff meringue forms, about 10 min.
  2. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a #12 plain tip, then pipe 3 1/2- to 4-inch-long bone shapes on baking sheets. Bake 20 min. Turn oven off and let meringues dry in oven for 30 min more. Let bones cool before carefully removing from parchment paper.
  3. Coat one cake layer with 1/2 cup frosting and top with second layer. Frost entire cake and refrigerate to set, 30 min or overnight. Decorate with whole and broken bones before serving.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal October 2009
Photography Hallie Burton
Prop Styling Lynsey Freyers
Food Styling Joyce Sangirardi

 

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

By | Baking + Desserts, Frosting + Icing, Halloween, Uncategorized | No Comments

Raise your hand if you like cream cheese frosting!

(Please tell me I’m not the only one with both hands raised)

This is the chocolate, luscious, delicious, elegant, perfect version of cream cheese frosting. It is great on yellow cake, chocolate cake and red velvet cake (that red cake that is just a vehicle for cream cheese frosting). Oh and cupcakes. And graham crackers. And your finger.

I most recently used it on the Broken Bones Graveyard Cake for Halloween!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3 Cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1 lb (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy, about 2 min. Stir in cocoa. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well. Beat in vanilla extract and milk and stir until smooth. Can be refrigerated up to one week; bring to room temperature and stir before using.
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Recipe by Tara Bench

 

No-Carve Fall Pumpkin Crafts

By | Craft, DIY, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Thanksgiving | No Comments

Let me count the ways I love no-carve pumpkin crafts.

No-Carve Fall Pumpkin Crafts You can leave the pumpkins in the house and on the porch from October through Thanksgiving! Then after two weeks I don’t end up with wilty jack-o-lanterns that look like angry old men.  The no-carve option gives you a full Fall season of decor. SCORE!

No-Carve Fall Pumpkin Crafts

Decoupage pumpkins with fall leaves are a pretty great craft. How fun to mix and match gorgeous fall leaves that the kids find. It’s simply done by sticking leaves to pumpkins with mod podge glue. (I used a few straight pins to hold them in place while they dried. Then I brushed another layer of mod podge over the top.)

 

 

Ribbon adorned pumpkins can last the entire fall season. Decorate with all types of ribbon and rick rack. The kids can even do this and choose their own designs and patterns.

Just look at these cute minis!

No-Carve Fall Pumpkin Crafts

You can do both of these crafts on real pumpkins or faux pumpkins!

No-Carve Fall Pumpkin CraftsCheck out the Fox and Friends Fall segment where these were featured by yours truly!

Marshmallow Ghost Cookies

By | Affiliate Links, Baking + Desserts, Candy + Treats, Cookies + Brownies, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kids | 2 Comments

Marshmallow Ghost Cookies put all kinds of deliciousness together. Chocolate cookies with a sugary, fluffy topping!

• • •

Sometimes, after eating a lot of Halloween candy, I think I look like this. Chubby and sugary.

Marshmallow Ghost Cookies

This post may include affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.
I might look like that. But it was worth it if I got to heat a few of these little marshmallow ghost cookies.
And no one tells me I look like that because I have lovely friends. Thank you, lovely friends. Just more reason to eat half (or all) of these by myself. Have a Ghostly Halloween! 

I made homemade marshmallow for these sweet things, and then piped it on top of store-bought cookies. Sort of a semi-homemade thing! If you’ve never made homemade marshmallow you’re in for a treat. It is the most wonderful tasting sweet in the world.

A homemade topping makes these marshmallow ghost cookies a melt-in-your-mouth dream!

Baking chatter: Yes, you probably need a candy thermometer to make these ghosts. Homemade marshmallow is SO stinking easy…but requires that one gadget.
Also you could really use any nice, flat cookie for these (gingersnaps anyone!?), but Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers are perfection. If you miss them in the cookie isle or your grocer doesn’t carry them (as is the case in some western states, don’t ask me why), they look like this:

nabisco-wafers

Mini M&Ms make perfect eyes for these ghoulish treats. You attach the eyes right after you pipe the marshmallow so they stick. Then cover the entire thing with crunchy crystal sugar.




Marshmallow Ghost Cookies

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes 22 cookies

Homemade marshmallow is soft and easy to pipe into ghoulish ghosts!

Ingredients

  • 22 chocolate wafer cookies
  • 1 envelope (2¾ tsp) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Brown mini M&Ms
  • 1½ cups sanding sugar

Instructions

  1. Line cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water to soften.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve granulated sugar in ¼ cup water, stirring. Remove spoon, brush inside edges of pan with water to remove sugar crystals and boil until the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238ºF) on a candy thermometer. Add mixture to gelatin and, using an electric mixer, whisk on medium speed for 3 min. Increase speed to high and whisk until soft peaks form, 8 to 10 min.
  3. Transfer marshmallow to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch-diameter plain tip, or coupler, and immediately pipe pointed mounds onto cookies (pipe just 5 ghosts at a time so marshmallow doesn’t set before you decorate). Working quickly, add candy eyes and coat generously with crystal sugar. Allow ghosts to set about 1 hr before serving; store in a covered container for up to 2 days.
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Make more of Tara Teaspoon’s Halloween treats:

15 Spooky Sweets Your Kids Can Make
Eerie Eyeball Cake For Halloween
The Real Kit Kat Bar Cake
Easy Halloween Chocolate Lollipops
Easy Halloween Chocolate Lollipops

Recipe by Tara Bench. Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal Oct/09. Photography Hallie Burton. Food Styling Joyce Sangirardi. Prop Styling Lynsey Freyers.

 

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

By | Baking + Desserts, Cupcakes, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Halloween’s A Comin’

They are just mini. They are mini marshmallow pumpkins. I want to squeeze them and then I want to eat them.
It’s a little like eating a Peeps (but deliciously homemade) on top of your favorite chocolate cupcake. No, it’s A LOT like that.
Do it for Halloween’s sake.

I know a lot of you won’t have an Ateco number 868 French Star tip hanging around (also referred to as #8B). It’s worth getting for this recipe alone. The large piping tips are only a couple of dollars, and if you don’t have a baking supply store with Ateco products around, hit up Williams-Sonoma or another website.
The tip will come in handy for all sorts of projects after it’s used for mini marshmallow pumpkins. I’ve piped buttercream on larger cupcakes (very cute!), the filling of twice baked potatoes, and choux paste for pretty éclairs.

So, feel free to say “This comes highly recommended,” to the store clerk when purchasing this lovely star tip. She won’t think you’re strange at all.

Other things I would tell you if I were standing right next to you:
•Have a candy thermometer for the marshmallow.
•Make and cool your cupcakes before starting on the marshmallow, so they are ready to go.
•Having a friend handy when making these is awesome, you can pipe, they can sprinkle sugar.
•I dump my orange sugar in a little sheet pan and sprinkle the sugar on the marshmallow over the pan. No mess, and I can transfer any leftover sugar back to a container.

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes 46 Mini Cupcakes

Marshmallow is piped onto cupcakes and covered in crunchy orange sugar. Make cupcakes from a mix or your favorite recipe. Easiest pumpkin patch you’ve ever grown!

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope (2¾ tsp) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 46 mini chocolate cupcakes
  • 46 green licorice pastels
  • ½ cup orange sanding sugar

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water to soften. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with a #868 French star tip; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat dissolve granulated sugar in ¼ cup water, stirring. Remove spoon; with a pastry brush, brush inside edges of pan with water to remove sugar crystals and boil until the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238ºF) on a candy thermometer. Pour mixture into gelatin without scraping pan, and whisk on medium speed for 3 min. Increase speed to high and whisk until soft peaks form, 8 to 10 min.
  3. Transfer marshmallow to prepared piping bag and immediately pipe dollops onto the tops of the cupcakes; use your finger to stop the flow of marshmallow from the piping tip and to create a flat top for each pumpkin. (Pipe just 5 pumpkins at a time so marshmallow doesn’t set before you decorate.) Working quickly, add licorice pastel “stems” and coat generously with sanding sugar. Allow pumpkins to set about 1 hr before serving; store covered up to a day.

Notes

Marshmallow is piped onto cupcakes and covered in crunchy orange sugar. Make cupcakes from a mix or your favorite recipe. Easiest pumpkin patch you’ve ever grown!

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Recipe and food styling by Tara Bench, originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct/10. Photography Kate Sears. Prop Stylist Gerri Williams