Bless Your Spoon: Candy balls and cluster bars

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Stephanie Williams Dean

The origin of Halloween dates back to ancient Celtic festivals, a time when the separate worlds of the living and dead were blurred. The day has evolved into one of spooky folklore and legends, with horrifying costumes and sinful decadent confections.

But there’s no doubt about it, after chowing down on a few candy balls and cluster bars, fright night will taste a few pounds of sugar sweeter. So sink your fangs into these holiday foods. Today’s recipes will satisfy the most die-hard, trick-or-treaters and fill any candy-monger’s bucket with a mix of sweet and savory edibles. Get into the spirit with these easy-to-prepare party foods and you’ll scare up a few appetites, for sure. A few sophisticated treats will leave folks howling for another tasty bite.

With stories and costumes that bring back to life dark histories of scary witches, ethereal ghosts, frightful zombies and shape-shifting werewolves — these tales of dark beings and scary spooks coming back from the grave are a large part of American folklore.

But what’s not folklore is the frightening world we’re living in today — a period of monstrous and scary times. Creating more uncertainty is the fact that life continually changes and nothing stays the same. Without warning life can get scary and chill us to the bone, and who knows how or when?

Blood Drip Cake

• 1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

• 1 large box red, green, or orange Jell-O

• 1 ½ cups boiling water

In a mixer bowl, prepare a yellow cake mix and bake in a greased and floured 9 x 13 cake pan, per box instructions. Allow to completely cool. Using a large tined meat fork, poke a dozen or more holes in the top of cake. In a bowl, dissolve 1 large box of either red, lime, or orange Jell-O with 1 ½ cups boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. Use red for blood, green for slime and orange for color. Pour over a cooled cake. Allow to completely cool and frost with a buttercream frosting.

Dracula’s Licorice Lemon Cake

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. lemon extract

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

• 2 ½ tsp. Calumet baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¾ cup whole milk

• 1 Tbsp. anise seeds

• 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind

Licorice Lemon Frosting

• ¼ cup softened, salted butter

• 2 Tbsp. whole milk

• 1 tsp. grated lemon rind

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extracts and eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add flour, baking powder and salt while alternating with milk. Mix well. Fold in anise seeds and lemon rind and mix well. Bake in a well-greased and floured 9 x 9 baking pan in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until cake tests done. For the icing, in a mixer bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add milk, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Beat in confectioners sugar gradually until smooth and creamy. If necessary, thin with a few drops of cream at a time.

Orange You Scared Ginger-Blades

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 1/3 cup molasses

• ½ cup packed light brown sugar

• ½ cup orange marmalade

• 2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. each, salt, ginger, cinnamon

• ¼ tsp. each soda, nutmeg

• ¼ cup cold, strong coffee

Orange Icing

• 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

• 2 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

• 1 tsp. grated orange rind

• 3 Tbsp. orange juice

In a mixer bowl, cream together shortening, molasses and brown sugar. Add the marmalade and mix well. Add flour, salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, soda and nutmeg while alternating with cold coffee. Bake in 2 well-greased and floured 13 x 9 baking pans in a preheated 400-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. For the icing, in a mixer bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, soft butter, orange rind and orange juice. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread on cookies. Yield: 4 dozen.

Black Dog Fudge Droppings

• 3 Tbsp. Hershey’s cocoa

• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

• 1 ½ cups shredded coconut

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine cocoa, condensed milk, coconut, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Drop from a teaspoon onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen.

Out of the Nut House Bars

• ¼ cup softened salted butter

• 1/3 cup light brown sugar

• 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

• ¼ tsp. calumet baking powder

• ¼ cup chopped, toasted cashews

In a mixer bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add brown sugar and cream well. Beat in sifted flour and baking powder. Mix well. Stir in chopped and toasted cashews. To toast nuts, bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Mix well. Pat mixture into bottom of a butter-greased 8 x 10 baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into bars.

Black Crows’ Nests

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• ¾ cup sugar

• 1 egg

• ¾ tsp. vanilla extract

• ¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 ¼ cup quick-cooking oats

• 1 cup toasted shredded coconut

• Blackberry jam

White Icing

• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

• A few drops of whole milk

In a mixer bowl, cream shortening until light. Add sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add sifted flour, salt and oats to the butter mixture. Blend well. Chill dough thoroughly in refrigerator. Shape into small balls and roll each ball in coconut. Bake on a greased cookie sheet in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove and form a dent in the top of each with a spoon. Return to oven and bake 20 additional minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool. When cool, place spoonful of blackberry jam in the hollow of each cookie. Drizzle very thin white icing around the edge of the jam. For the icing, add vanilla to confectioner sugar and then a few drops of milk until icing is thin enough to run off a spoon.

Krispie Critter’s Peanut Butter Bars

• 8 ounces Karo light corn syrup

• 1 cup sugar

• 3 Tbsp. water

• 1 cup peanut butter

• 7-8 cups old fashioned Rice Krispies

• 12 ounces chocolate chips

• 6 ounces butterscotch chips

In a large pot, combine Karo syrup and sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Slowly bring mixture to a boil while constantly stirring and until it turns clear. Remove from heat and stir in water and peanut butter. Mix well. Add Rice Krispies and mix well Press mixture down into bottom of a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Evenly sprinkle top with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Place in a preheated 300-degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until chips are melted. Then evenly spread the chips over top of the treats. Cut into squares immediately.

Spooks Peanut Butter Bombs

• ½ cup softened salted butter

• 18 ounces creamy peanut butter

• 16 ounces confectioners’ sugar

• 3 cups Rice Krispies cereal


• 16 ounces milk chocolate candy bar

• 1 Tbsp. Crisco shortening

For the balls, in a bowl, combine softened butter, peanut butter, sugar and cereal. For into 1-inch balls. Line cookie sheets with waxed paper. Place balls on paper and chill. For the coating, in a double boiler, place chocolate bar and vegetable shortening on top over simmering water. When chocolate has melted, dip balls into it using a toothpick. Transfer them back to the waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill until chocolate hardens. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container. Easy and makes a lot for gifts. Yield: 90

Petrified Pizza Wheels

• 20 Hungry Jack biscuits

• 1 pound bulk sausage

• 1 cup chopped onions

• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

• ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 1 ½ tsp. oregano

• 1 ½ tsp. garlic salt

• 6 ounces tomato paste

• 8 ounces tomato sauce

• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

• Pepperoni, optional

Cut biscuits into thirds. Flatten each piece on a cookie sheet to form small circles. In a skillet, brown sausage and drain off fat. In the same skillet, combine onions, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, tomato paste and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes. Put sauce on raw, unbaked biscuits. Add pepperoni, if desired. Evenly sprinkle top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

October Orange Loaf

• 1 juiced orange, plus grated rind

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 beaten egg

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 cup whole milk

• 1 tsp. soda

• Grated orange rind

• ½ cup raisins (optional)


• Juice from orange

• ½ cup sugar

Juice orange and grate orange rind and set aside in separate bowls. In a mixer bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in the egg. Mix well. Add the flour, baking powder and salt while alternating with the orange juice and milk that has been combined with soda. Mix well. Fold in the grated rind from the orange. Raisins may be added if desired. Mix well. Bake in a well-greased and floured loaf pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until tests done. While baking, prepare the glaze by dissolving sugar in the juice of the orange. When cake is done, pour over top of cake. Powdered sugar may be sprinkled over top if desired.

Eerie, Edible Play-Doh

• 1 cup smooth peanut butter

• 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

• 1 cup Karo light corn syrup

• 1 ¼ cup instant non-fat dry milk

In a bowl, mix all together and let the children play and enjoy.