Don’t Trick Guests Out of Treats: 7 Halloween Dessert Recipes

Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend $1.4 billion on adult costumes this year, and 33.4% of Americans will either throw or attend a Halloween party. That means there are plenty of grown-ups who plan to partake in this year’s festivities. A huge part of Halloween — even for adults — is getting to indulge in tantalizing treats. If you’re hosting or attending a holiday soiree, consider ditching your store-bought candy and preparing a batch of sophisticated sweets instead. We’re confident adults will appreciate these seven recipes.

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Salted Pumpkin Caramels

Rather than stocking up on Tootsie Rolls and caramel candies, create an elegant sweet that is just as gooey. Food52’s caramels are filled with fabulous fall flavors, including pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup.

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup unsalted pepitas
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ⅓ cup good maple syrup
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in chunks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)

Directions: Dry toast the pepitas in a skillet until they start to pop. Line the bottom and the sides of an 8-inch square glass pan with parchment. Butter the parchment on the sides of the pan. Evenly spread out the toasted pepitas on the bottom of the pan, on top of the parchment. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree, and spices. Get this mixture quite warm, but not boiling. Set aside.

In a second heavy-bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, combine the sugar, both syrups, and water. Stir until the sugars are melted, then let it boil until it reaches 244 degrees Fahrenheit. Very carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and slowly bring this mixture to 240 degrees as registered on a on a candy thermometer. This can take a while, about 30 minutes. Watch it carefully and stir it more frequently once it hits 230 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it from burning at the bottom of the pan.

As soon as it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit, pull it off the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that butter is fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes and sprinkle the salt over the top. Let the caramels fully set for at least 2 hours before using a hot knife to cut them into 1-inch squares and wrapping them individually in waxed paper.

Source: iStock

Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars

Martha Stewart has created grown-up Twix with these Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars. Whether you’re looking for a dessert to enjoy while the kids are trick-or-treating or you’ve got a Halloween party to attend, you won’t be able to stop snacking on these sensational sweets. The recipe yields 16 bars.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 4½ ounces (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
  • ¼ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

Chocolate caramel

  • 10½ ounces milk chocolate, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the crust, line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined. Press dough evenly into pan and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

To make the caramel, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes.

Stir to combine and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run a knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars.

Source: iStock

Spicy Pumpkin Fudge

Recipe 4 Living’s Spicy Pumpkin Fudge is guaranteed to be a hit at any Halloween party. Filled with pumpkin flavors, butterscotch chips, and marshmallow cream, this orange-colored treat is ravishingly rich and fabulously festive.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts (or other nuts)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips (or cinnamon chips)
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine saugar, butter, milk, pumpkin, and spice. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat until the mixture reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in butterscotch chips, then add marshmallow cream, nuts, and vanilla, and mix until blended. Immediately pour mixture into pan and spread evenly. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares and refrigerate in airtight container.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Red Wine Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are quintessential for Halloween. If you’re hosting an adult Halloween party, you’ll want to prepare these grown up-approved Red Wine Caramel Apples. Gourmet’s recipe via Epicurious yields 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 8 small McIntosh apples, stemmed, washed well, and dried
  • 1½ cups red wine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions: Insert a wooden stick halfway into each apple at stem end. Line a tray with wax paper and lightly grease paper. Boil wine in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2½- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.

Add reduced wine and swirl pan. Add cream and simmer, stirring, until incorporated, then continue to simmer until thermometer registers 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and cool to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Holding apples by the sticks, dip them in caramel and swirl to coat, letting excess drip off, then hold apples up for about 15 seconds to allow more caramel to set on apples. Put caramel apples, stick side up, on greased wax paper and let stand until caramel firms up, about 30 minutes.

Source: iStock

Thai Cashew Brittle

Cooking Light’s Thai Cashew Brittle is an absolutely delicious, orange-toned dessert that is perfect for a sophisticated soiree. Looking for a delicious drink to serve as well? Consider Martha Stewart’s Blood-Orange Cocktail —  it’s the perfect complement to your Halloween sweets!

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted cashews, salted
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring just until combined; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 335 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat; stir in cashews and remaining ingredients. Quickly pour mixture onto prepared pan, spreading evenly. Cool completely; break into pieces.

Source: iStock

Grown-up Peanut Butter Cups Topped With Smoked Sea Salt

Save the store-bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the trick-or-treaters and make the grown-up version to enjoy while you pass out candy. Franish Nonspeaker’s terrific treat has a filling made with caramelized honey peanut brittle and is topped with a superb smoked sea salt. Candy has never tasted sweeter!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ ounces water (3 tablespoons)
  • 3½ ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces honey (approximately ¼ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 ounces unsalted peanuts
  • 6 ounces unsalted, natural peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon smoked salt
  • Approximately 1 ounce peanut oil (2 to 3 tablespoons)
  • 20 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 20 cupcake liners

Directions: Pour a tablespoon of peanut oil on a baking sheet and use your hands or a paper towel to spread the oil to coat the sheet. Set aside. Add the water, sugar, honey, and vanilla bean paste to a heavy gauge sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar until the liquid starts to bubble up. When it reaches a boil, cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns a deep caramel brown. If using a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach approximately 340 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the mixture reaches the desired color, remove from heat and stir in the peanuts to make a brittle. Pour out onto the greased baking sheet. Spread the brittle mixture with a heatproof spatula and then set aside to cool. Once the brittle has cooled, use your hands to break it off the baking sheet and put the brittle pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to break the brittle into small piecesm and then allow the processor to run until a rough, slightly dry paste forms.

Add the peanut butter and salt to the brittle paste and pulse to combine. Let the processor run while slowly pouring in one tablespoon of peanut oil. Check the consistency and add more peanut oil, a little at a time, if the paste is too thick. Scoop the peanut butter filling into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip or a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Set aside. Melt or temper the chocolate according to your preferred method.

Arrange the cupcake liners on a baking sheet and ladle, using a tablespoon, melted or tempered chocolate into each of the liners. Next, pipe a dollop of peanut butter filling into the center of the chocolate-filled cup. Top each peanut butter mound with another tablespoon of melted or tempered chocolate. When all cups have been filled, gently rap the baking sheet on the counter to level the chocolate in the cups and to pop any trapped air bubbles. Set the cups aside until they have set up and then peel off the cupcake liners before serving.

Source: iStock

Candy Corn Mousse Cups

If you can’t imagine celebrating Halloween without candy corn, consider preparing Live Love Pasta’s mousse cups. This orange, yellow, and white treat is creamy, rich, and fantastically fluffy. To make this stunning sweet even more festive, be sure to garnish with candy corn.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 small container (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed
  • Orange and yellow food coloring
  • Candy corn

Directions: Beat cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until fully smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, milk, and then vanilla. Continue mixing about 1 minute on medium speed. Fold cool whip into cream cheese mixture; stir until fully combined. Scoop about ⅓ of the cheesecake mousse into a bowl; mix with orange food coloring. Color another third of the mixture yellow. Leave the remaining third white. Beginning with the yellow mousse, pipe or spoon the mixture into each glass. Repeat with the orange and white. Garnish with candy corn.

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