A moving Halloween celebrationIt will soon be...


A moving Halloween celebration

It will soon be time to welcome ghouls, goblins, ghosts and hosts of other fearsome or frolicsome critters as Halloween rolls around again. Even youngsters who don't make the traditional trek around the neighborhood in search of sweets are likely to have parties and school events that require some sort of treats.

One suggestion for a Halloween celebration that combines trick-or-treating with a stay-at-home celebration is the progressive party, which moves kids, costumes and fun from house to house. At each stop, there's a treat and an activity. The progressive party might be a good idea for busy grown-ups who want to have a little holiday fun; dividing the work and the time among several locations eases the burden for each.

Activities suggested by M&M;/Mars and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association could include: Costume judging, with prizes for practically everyone, of course; a pumpkin-carving contest, for older children or adults; a contest to guess the number of candy pieces in a large jar (winner takes all); a "find-the-treat" treasure hunt, with small candy bars or packets of candy stashed indoors or out; or a chance to decorate "pumpkin" cupcakes with orange icing and candies of various shapes.

Here's a recipe for Jack-O-Lantern cupcakes, from M&M;/Mars.

Jack-O-Lantern brownie cupcakes

Makes 12 brownies

1 package brownie mix

1 egg

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cups M&M;'s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Candies, divided use

6 to 7 tubes orange decorator frosting (see note)


green sugar

raisins and mixed nuts

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 2-inch muffin pans with non-stick vegetable cooking spray. Combine brownie mix, egg, water and oil in large bowl. Stir with spoon until well blended, about 50 strokes. Stir 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate candies into batter. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes or until set. Gently remove from pan and cool upside down on wire rack.

Squeeze frosting onto top of each brownie. Using spatula, coat sides and top. Draw spatula from bottom to top center to form "pumpkin" ridges. Shape small pieces of marzipan into stems and roll in green sugar. Before frosting hardens, create faces on cupcakes with remaining semi-sweet chocolate candies, raisins and nuts.

Note: Semi-sweet chocolate candies, decorator frosting, marzipan and green sugar can be found in the baking section of supermarkets. Instead of using marzipan and green sugar for stems, use green gumdrops.

A party where pizza or sandwiches are the main course could always use a spectacular dessert. This frozen treat from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association can be prepared as much as a week before the event and stored in the freezer.

Jack-O-Lantern ice cream cake

Serves 12

1 package fudge brownie mix

1 can (16 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

3 pints vanilla ice cream, softened

chocolate peanut butter cups and Halloween candies

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour batter evenly into buttered 9-inch springform pan. Bake about 25 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Chill in freezer 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, sugar, peanuts and peanut butter; stir into ice cream until just blended thoroughly. Spread evenly over chilled brownie in pan. With spatula, make indentations to resemble pumpkin lines. Cover and freeze several hours or overnight, until firm. Before serving, run spatula around sides of pan to loosen before releasing spring. Remove ** sides of pan. Decorate with candies as desired. If a haunted house is part of your Halloween plans, these delightfully grotesque treats are just the thing to serve. The recipe is from the "Sunset Best Kids Cookbook" (Sunset Publishing Corp., 1992, $9.99) and appears in the September/October issue of Cookbook Digest magazine.

Orange worms

Makes 12 worms

2 cans (about 1 pound each) apricot halves packed in light syrup

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups orange juice

Place apricots in colander and let drain. Place drained apricots in food processor, cover, and process until well blended. Place gelatin in 3-quart pan, add orange juice and let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Place pan on burner and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with whisk. Remove pan to rack. Add apricots and mix with whisk until well-blended. Pour into 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours until set.

Use butter knife to cut gelatin crosswise into 1-inch strips. Use pancake turner to remove strips to serving plate. "Worms" can be given "eyes" made of licorice bits, if desired.

It's time to come clean about that terrible turkey experience you had one Thanksgiving . . . The time the bird didn't get thawed . . . the gourmet "grilled" version that took until 10 p.m. to cook. We're looking for funny or awful or helpful first-person tales about baking the holiday bird. If you're willing to share for the good of others, please write to Turkey, c/o Karol V. Menzie, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Please include a daytime phone number.

Tidbits welcomes interesting nuggets of food news -- new products, food-related news events, local cookbooks, mail-order finds, openings and closings of restaurants and food shops.

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