Spooooooky Sweets: 21 Halloween Desserts to Thrill and Terrify
No creepy claw shall pry these delicious candies, cakes, and clever treats out of your cold, costumed hand this Halloween
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Halloween comes at a strange time of year. Summer is gone and autumn stands on the precipice, dry leaves swirling, about to fall to winter’s icy silence. It’s a gauzy, liminal time you can feel in the wind: Things are about to change. Perhaps that’s why we comfort ourselves with sweetness while we’re straddling this in-between space. And this year there’s something to celebrate: The world is more open. Backyard parties are, well, back — no more curling up on the couch and gobbling up mini candy bars to cope with the lack of human contact.
But we’re still at a crossroads, trying to navigate out of a dark forest. In Halloween’s early incarnation, the ancient Celts made offerings of food to the wandering spirits and souls of their ancestors to ward off evil and celebrate the new year. So in that spirit, we’ve assembled 21 recipes, both cute and creepy, for you to create and enjoy with all the souls you welcome in this Halloween. Transcend couch candy this year and fling open your kitchens to make these tasty treats: The Devil’s Inferno Cake, wild with flames; a graveyard pie, the delicious domain of the departed; marzipan creepy crawlers for brave bug lovers; and sweet green monster marshmallow pops and pretzels transformed into chocolatey pumpkins and owls to delight the kid in each of us.
There are even a few sweetly devilish drinks at the end, both spirit-infused and family-friendly, to help you celebrate. Don your spookiest mask and get ready to have some fun in the kitchen: Happy Halloween! Let the fiery festival of sweets begin!
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Tips (but no tricks!) for making easy Halloween desserts
Follow these suggestions to make your scary Halloween dessert ideas come to life
Is there any special equipment I need?
Most of these recipes can be prepared with equipment you already have in your kitchen, but for making candies it’s important to have a candy thermometer when recipes call for boiling sugar mixtures. (This tool can also be used to monitor the temperature of fat when deep frying.) One that clips to the side of the pot is ideal for monitoring temperature changes while keeping your hands free (and safe). Note: At approximately 300°F the mixture will enter the “hard crack” stage and begin to turn amber as the sugar caramelizes. This creates a hard candy. For softer candies, somewhere between 240-248°F is generally the sweet spot to shoot for.
Candy making also often requires parchment paper for cooling and the ease of lifting the candy off once it’s hardened. A Silpat mat can also be used (and is more eco-friendly in the long run), but note it will leave a tiny basket-weave texture on the finished candy.
Where can I find awesome edible Halloween decorations?
Specialty baking shops and kitchen equipment stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table sell fun and clever edible decorations for Halloween dessert recipes. King Arthur Baking Company sells high quality flavored chips as well as excellent food dyes and a variety of decorative sugars. Sprinkle Pop and Wilton also make a variety of decorations to top fun Halloween desserts, and in a pinch there’s always the big online retailers.
Fiendish baked goods
Don’t let these scary Halloween dessert ideas frighten you!
Little hands can help decorate these molasses-y blondies with chocolate candies in fall shades of brown, yellow, and orange. Butter, vanilla, and brown sugar give these chewy bars a sweetly tempting scent.
Orange sherbet and lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream float above a crunchy Oreo crust to create a soft and crunchy black, orange, and white Halloween cake that tastes like a spooky creamsicle.
Set aside some of your Halloween candy to mix into this luscious vanilla and chocolate ice cream pie, and prepare for gasps of surprise (and ok, delight) when you unveil this edible graveyard.
This cookie recipe requires some skill to make, but oh the results! Food coloring gel lets you customize your colors — from creepy to cute — and sprinkles give the edges some style.
These perfect Halloween cupcakes put the treat in the holiday — a homemade brown sugar-peanut butter cupcake has a mini Reese's peanut butter cup nestled inside before baking, and once the little cakes are out of the oven, a candy corn adorns each tricky treat.
Trifles are great for serving a crowd and can be as easy as you want them to be. Big cubes of chocolate cake are layered with chocolate pudding, as scary marshmallow ghosts and friendly jack o’ lanterns peer out through the glass. And a sweet field of candy corn waits to be harvested on top.
A chocolatey devil’s food cake is already a natural fit for Halloween, but add these sweet and scary flames on top — well, even Lucifer himself might be tempted to take a bite. And while they look complex and impressive, they’re fairly simple to make at home.
Some of these are very easy Halloween desserts, while a few require a bit more skull — err, skill to prepare!
Truffles easily lend themselves to a Halloween celebration, and homemade ones put most packaged candies to shame. Oreos are a surprising filling in these easy-to-make sweet treats, and your choice of sprinkles on top make decorating quick and fun.
Raise your eek! factor to the next level with these terrifyingly realistic looking marzipan creepy crawlers. Detailed instructions make it easy to take four ingredients and either gross out or utterly delight any Halloween party-goers!
With only three ingredients, these sweet and salty crispy treats come together in about 10 minutes and look as fun as they taste, with a bit of a “Beetlejuice” vibe from the striped chocolate.
There’s something for every ghost and ghoul in this sweet and simple bark: broken graham crackers, candy corn, pretzels, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. You’ll know there’s sorcery afoot when it disappears in a flash.
It’s a monster bash! These colorful candy pops require no baking or cooking — instead your kitchen time can be spent doing the festive part: dipping cookies and marshmallows, then decorating. Don't forget the candy eyeballs. And remember, the more help, the merrier … or scarier?
In a mad scientist’s mind, anything is possible — even eating all the research! Get out your candy thermometer and pizza cutter, follow these clear steps, and prepare to frighten every unsuspecting victim who is foolish enough to enter your laboratory.
This genius recipe combines the best of two sweet worlds: the marshmallow-y goodness of a Rice Krispie treat, and the crunch of that favorite fall snack, popcorn. Shaping the ears is simple and the parchment “husk” wrapping ensures no one’s fingers get sticky.
These delightful and scary Halloween dessert ideas will have everyone “booing” for more!
Small Granny Smith apples are the perfect foundation for these healthy-ish candy apples that use melted cinnamon chips and granulated sugar to create a ghoulish apple pie-on-a-stick effect. Switch out white chocolate chips for the candy melts to make it the ultimate treat.
Grab your best bag of pretzels and get going on these fun and creative decorated Halloween snacks. Pumpkins, Frankenstein, watchful owls, and spooky ghosts — the only limit is when the pretzels run out.
Be sure to use firmer bananas for these fun and spooky frozen banana treats. Not only are they healthier than candy, but kids can help assemble and draw faces on them, too (a toothpick may be a useful tool).
Frankenstein has got nothing on these adorable three-ingredient pudding cups, which are perfect for kids and grown-ups alike. Vanilla pudding is dyed green, Oreos get monstrously crushed — a fun task for any wee ones armed with a potato masher, and a permanent marker makes short work of decorating the cups!
This sweet and crunchy mix is quick to put together and will be a favorite of ghouls and goblins alike. Peanut butter, vanilla, and two kinds of chocolate coat Chex rice cereal before coming alive with candy corn.
A fun time on Halloween includes dessert and candy, but a spooky quaff sets the tone for a howlin’ good time
This non-alcoholic punch gets its spooky moon from a round of frozen orange juice, while Concord grape juice, lime, and ginger soda give the bloody base a zesty bite. Seltzer water adds some bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble — especially if you add a shot of vodka to the grown ups’ glasses.
Maple syrup and orange blunt the edge of the bourbon, while the scary smoking rosemary sprig makes it clear that something is afoot in this creepy cocktail.
Cherry schnapps and cherry soda provide the sweet and tart bloody notes in this sugary, vodka-based drink. Black sanding sugar on the rim would make this cocktail even spookier, if you can find it.
More Halloween eats to explore
You'll want to dig your fangs into the recipes in these Yummly articles: