Delightful, frightful Halloween treats


This column kicks off my favorite time of the year — the holidays. These recipes are festive and delicious. I crafted a Southwest Spooky Cheeseball that can be decorated any number of ways; turn it into a pumpkin, a witch, Frankenstein, etc. An easy party dip is my simple Sun-dried Tomato Spread with feta and Parmesan cheeses, made spooky with a plastic eyeball. My Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is delectable. And Orange Cake with Orange Curd and Frosting is divine — a recipe for the entire holiday season. For decorating fun, purchase a bag of plastic rings — spiders, bats, etc. — for decorating (wash and dry before using). Happy Halloween!

Southwest Spooky Cheeseball

Southwest Spooky Cheeseball
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons canned diced green chiles
1 2/3 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded
Mini bell peppers, olives and googly eyes* for decorating
Tortilla chips or crackers for serving
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and taco seasoning until combined. Add green onion, red bell pepper, chiles and cheese, and combine. Form into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm.
Decorate cheeseball with bell pepper slices or olives. (I sliced mini bell peppers and added googly eyes to them.) Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
*Note: Edible candy eyeballs are available. If using nonedible, plastic eyeballs, make sure they are removed prior to eating; they could pose a choking hazard.

Sun-dried Tomato Spread

Sun-dried Tomato Spread
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Plastic eyeball and long sun-dried tomato slices for decorating
Crackers for serving
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and feta and Parmesan cheeses. Transfer dip to a small serving bowl; add eyeball to top, and add sun-dried tomato slices to resemble capillaries. Serve with crackers.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For cake:
2 cups cake flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Generous pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
For frosting:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2-4 cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
Dash of milk or cream
Black gel icing and plastic spider rings for decorating (optional)
For cake: Heat oven to 350.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, pumpkin, canola oil and vanilla, and beat 2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed. Pour in an 11-inch springform pan (can also use two 9-inch pans for a double-layer cake).
Bake 40 minutes (check after 30 minutes if using 9-inch pans). Cool completely before frosting.
For frosting: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Separately, beat butter until fluffy; add to cream cheese, beating both together. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and vanilla 1 teaspoon at a time. Beat until smooth. Add a dash of milk or cream to thin icing. Taste and adjust sugar if needed.
Frost cooled cake. Use a toothpick to draw a spider web on cake. Draw four intersecting lines going across length of cake to make 8 triangles. Draw lines joining each triangle, and go over drawing with black gel icing. Add a few spider rings, and serve.

Orange Cake with Orange Curd and Frosting

Orange Cake with Orange Curd and Frosting

For cake:
1 (15.5-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1/3-1/2 cup canola oil (according to package directions)
3 eggs
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange extract
Zest from 1 orange
For orange curd:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg, beaten
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons salted butter
For frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
3-4 cups powdered sugar, to taste
Few drops of orange food coloring (or yellow and red)
Halloween plastic rings for decorating (optional)

For cake: Heat oven according to cake mix directions. Grease two 9-inch pans. In a large bowl, beat all cake ingredients together for 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake according to directions, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. For best results, freeze one cake layer that you plan to use for top.
For curd: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together orange juice, orange zest, egg, egg yolks and sugar. Stir constantly, until thicker and glossy (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat, and stir in butter, one tablespoon at a time, making sure it melts completely. Cool and refrigerate 2 hours or more before serving.
For frosting: In a large, bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Separately beat cream cheese until fluffy; add to butter, beating both together. Slowly add orange juice, orange zest and powdered sugar until combined. Add orange food coloring drops one at a time until desired shade is achieved.
To assemble: Using a skewer, poke holes in bottom cake layer (to help some orange curd seep in). Spread orange curd over bottom layer (you will have extra curd; serve it on the side with the cake). Place second cake layer (the frozen one, if you performed that step) on top. Frost top and sides of cake; decorate with Halloween rings, if desired. Allow to sit for 1 hour before serving if cake top is frozen; if not, you can serve immediately.

Juliana Goodwin is a food columnist, cookbook author and avid traveler. If you have a question, email