Make Halloween baking fun, artistic

John Thomas photo
John Thomas photo "Spooky" Letter Cookies can spell out whatever you chose this Halloween.

Whether you’re planning a grown-up Halloween bash or a party with little ghosts and goblins, be sure to make the treat table fun and festive.

Culinary professional Nina Swan-Kohler of Robins has developed a variety of Halloween treats that can be decorated as simply or elaborate as you choose.

“You don’t need to be particularly artistic, just have a good sense of humor and use your imagination,” Swan-Kohler says.

Letter cookies are popular among adults and youngsters. The cutout cookies can spell everything from “Boo” to the names of party guests.

A dash of spices gives the traditional cookie an unexpected kick.

“Pumpkin pie spice adds just the right flavor,” she says. “This blend of spices is normally used to flavor pies, but during jack-lantern season, it’s perfect for cookies and quick breads, too.”

Candy Corn Brownie Pizza is a colorful dessert that is simple to make, using a packaged brownie mix.

“When you can buy a brownie mix that already tastes so good, there is no need to bother with making brownies from scratch,” Swan-Kohler says.

The candy corn topping makes a nice presentation that the kids can easily tackle.

The Spider Web Molten Chocolate Pie is very indulgent with fudge filling.

“It almost looks underbaked” because it is so ooey and gooey, says Swan-Kohler.

The spider web design on the top can be made with a small plastic bag as the decorating tool. By dragging a wooden toothpick through the lines of white chocolate, you can make the web as unique as a real one.

The spider web technique can also be used on the Web site Chocolate Bars. For an extra touch, use the frosting to write on the bars.

Swan-Kohler, who teaches cooking classes in her home, admits these treats are all high in calories, rich and indulgent. But Halloween is a time to enjoy yourself.

“Putting an extra tablespoon of fun in anything is OK,” she says.


Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size of cutters

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice Substitute a mixture of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves for the pumpkin pie spice.

1 teaspoon baking powder

Decorating icing

9 cups sifted powdered sugar (one 2-pound bag)

1/4 cup dried egg whites (such as Just Whites)

1/2 to 2/3 cup water

Paste-style food colors (orange, black and white)

In large mixer bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Measure flour by lightly spooning it into dry (nested) measuring cups. Use a metal spatula or knife to level off the top. Stir together flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder; add to egg mixture, beating on low speed to combine. Spoon dough onto plastic wrap; shape into ball.

Divide in half, making two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap; chill dough for at least 1 hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On surface dusted with additional flour, roll out one disk to 1/8-inch thickness (to about 14-inch-diameter circle). With cookie cutters, cut out letters to spell “SPOOKY,” “HALLOWEEN,” or “BOO” (or other words as desired). Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until tops are no longer moist. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Decorate as desired.

For the icing, in medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar and dried egg whites. Stir in just enough of the water to make a spreadable consistency. Divide into several small bowls. Add color by dipping wooden pick into food color and then into icing, stirring to combine. Using a pastry brush, brush icing on each cookie to coat top.

Spoon remaining icing into small decorating bag.(Or use heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; fill, then cut off tip of 1 corner.) Pipe icing onto cookies to create desired designs. (Or pipe on both the base coat of icing and the designs.)

From Nina Swan-Kohler


Makes 1 cookie pizza

12 to 16 servings

1 package (19 ounces) triple chocolate brownie mix

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

1 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

2/3 cup prepared chocolate frosting

3 cups candy corn (one 18 1/2-ounce bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium mixing bowl, stir together brownie mix, eggs, oil and water until smooth (about 50 strokes). Stir in peanuts. Spread on a 13-inch pizza pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool on pan. Spread frosting over cookie to within 1 inch of edge. Decorate with candy corn. Cut into wedges to serve.

From Nina Swan-Kohler


Makes 1 pie or 8 servings


1 package (8.1 ounces) chocolate chip muffin mix

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened

Fudge filling:

1 package (19 ounces) chewy fudge brownie mix

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water


1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Web decorating icing:

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine muffin mix and brown sugar. With fingertips, blend in 1/4 cup butter into dry ingredients until dough forms. Press dough in bottom and up sides of 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie plate that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Cool slightly.

Stir together brownie mix, eggs, oil and water until smooth. Pour into baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 32 minutes or until edges are firm but center just barely jiggles when moved. Cool slightly. In small microwave-safe bowl, microwave semisweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup butter on high for 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Pour frosting over brownie pie.

For web decoration, place white chocolate chips in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Microwave on low for 2 to 4 minutes, massaging the bag every 30 seconds until chocolate is melted. Cut off tip of one corner of bag. Beginning at center of pie, pipe white chocolate onto pie in circular spiral design. Drag a wooden pick or knife from the center, through the lines to make “web.”

From Nina Swan-Kohler


Makes 2 dozen bars.

1 cup butter or margarine, softened (2 sticks)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups biscuit and baking mix

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup candy-coated peanut butter bits

1 container (12 to 16 ounces) prepared vanilla frosting

1 tube (4.25 ounces) chocolate decorator frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add milk and vanilla, beating to combine. Slowly add baking mix and cocoa, beating on low speed to combine. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter bits.

Pour mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake for 33 to 37 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan.

Frost bars with vanilla frosting. Beginning in the center, use chocolate decorator frosting to make a spiral design. Drag point of a wooden pick across spiral lines to make a “web.” Use chocolate or bright color frosting to add Web site address, if desired.

From Nina Swan-Kohler


1/2 gallon apple cider

1/2 cup clover honey

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

2 whole oranges

Pour cider into large 4-quart slow-cooker. Add honey and cinnamon. Divide cloves and stick into two oranges; add to cider. Heat on low for 3 hours. Fast-heat method; pour ingredients in large pot. Heat over medium heat for 15 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Do not boil, just simmer.

From Nina Swan-Kohler


7 cups corn and rice cereal (Crispix recommended)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup clover honey (6 ounces)

1 cup salted mixed nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat large shallow baking pan (15-by-10-by-1-inch) with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Spread cereal in pan.

In 1-cup glass measure, microwave butter on high until melted (about 30 seconds). Whisk in honey until combined well. Drizzle over cereal; gently stir to coat cereal.

Bake 20 minutes or until cereal is light golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in mixed nuts. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes about 8 cups.From Nina Swan-Kohler


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