Lifestyle & Culture

Kitchen Detail: Halloween Tricks

October 27, 2022

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A Halloween punch, from The Best of Gourmet, 1996.

After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years—La Cuisine in Alexandria, Virginia—Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food-related issues.

By Nancy Pollard

southern Living Milky Way cakeALTHOUGH nothing can take the place of  Easter as my favorite holiday lunch to plan, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Halloween meals and any Halloween recipe. We used to buy Milky Ways as treats for kids, but almost no one came to our door, deterred by a very spooky and always creaking gate entry, and then down a dark alley that always had mysterious squishy things underfoot. That worked out well for me, as I used our unclaimed loot to make the Milky Way Cake (left) found in one of my Southern Junior League cookbooks. The Southern ones always had the best weird recipes. In fact, the closest recipe to the one I used to make  is dutifully recorded in Southern Living. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

A Scary But Safe Halloween Recipe

This year, whether it’s a party for the children or adults (or both, as Halloween is now as much an adult celebration Witches Brew KD versionas it is for children), this will be another occasion for doing something at home with a few neighborhood friends and kids.  So here are some treats I have made for my children in the past. Start with a drink that can be made with or without rum. Since we all probably still have plenty of disposable gloves, this punch, from a 1996 Gourmet magazine cookbook, is a perfect Halloween recipe. It has been copied for years and made overly fussy and sweet, but here is the original recipe, which is quite refreshing.

For the spooky part, when you fill the gloves with water and then tie them off, drape the filled gloves over any roundish frozen containers so that the hands come out curved, as if they are grasping for a way to get out of the punch.  I add the Teisseire Mint Syrup to the water when I fill the gloves, which makes them green and creepier and offers a neat taste contrast to the punch. The icey hands melt and break apart, so that children can have finger ice cubes in their glass. A fun Halloween recipe that is wonderfully spooky and tasty too!

Witches’ Brew

Yields 13 servings
Refreshing, not cloyingly sweet, perfect for adults who like a cockail if you add the rum, and just as tasty without.
Adapted from The Best of Gourmet 1996.

For the spice syrup:
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
3 tablespoons (44ml) chopped peeled fresh ginger root
1/3 (79ml)cup water
1/3 cup (75gr) white granulated sugar (I prefer India Tree Caster Sugar)

For the punch:
1 chilled 25.4 oz (751ml) bottle sparkling cider
1 chilled 1 quart (1l) bottle cranberry juice cocktail
1 chilled 1 quart (1l) bottle club soda or seltzer
Optional: 1 cup (237ml) dark rum

  1. Rinse out some (usually 2 to 4 are plenty) surgical gloves and fill with water (I sometimes add mint syrup to make them green), leaving some room so you can tie each “hand” off like a balloon or with a rubber band.
  2. Freeze the hands on a tray or draped over a round container.
  3. To make the spice syrup, bring the cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger root, water, and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Simmer covered (you don’t want too much evaporation) for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cool the syrup, which can be made a week ahead.
  6. In a punch bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and strain the syrup into the witches’ brew.
  7. Peel the surgical gloves off the ice hands and add the spooky hands to the brew.
You want the punch mixture to be as cold as possible so that the ice hands don’t melt immediately.

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