It’s that time of the year again. Fans of horror, children and dentists celebrate the one day where candy overdose is a fact of life. While nobody celebrates Halloween as widely as Americans, it’s a holiday dating back to ancient Celtic civilizations and is represented in almost every culture on Earth.
Here are some international recipes to add a not-so-scary surprise to your Halloween festivities.
Barmbrack – Ireland
While some of you may toss breakfast bread a curious look, you’d be surprised to find it’s
the original Halloween dish. This treat has lasted since the beginning of the holiday and has no intention of going stale soon. The trick lies just below the spicy, sweet crust. Tradition requires bakers put several inedible objects within the cake which give eaters their fortune. A bean means spinster/bachelorhood, cloth signals poverty, a coin promises wealth and a ring hints at marriage.
- 2 cups black tea, cooled
- 3⁄4cup raisins
- 1⁄2cup dried currants, cranberries or cherries
- 2 tbsp. each candied lemon and orange peel, minced
- 2 cups flour, plus more
- 1⁄4cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 freshly grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 ground cloves
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, preferably European-style
- 1⁄4cup whole milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- Assorted charms, wrapped individually in parchment paper (if desired)
- 1⁄3cup honey, warmed
- Stir tea, raisins, currants and candied lemon and orange peel in a bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 2 hours, then drain and set aside.
- Heat oven to 325°.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a bowl; make a well in the center.
- Mix reserved fruit, butter, milk and egg in a bowl and add to well; stir until a wet dough forms.
- Press dough into a greased 8″ cake pan and push charms into dough.
- Bake until firm, 35–40 minutes.
- Brush with honey; bake 2 more minutes.
- Let cool slightly; serve with butter.
Pabassinas – Mexico and Sardinia
Mexico takes a different approach to their Halloween with Dia De Los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), and its traditions, festivities and style are recognized around the world. This multi-day celebration swaps pumpkins for decorated candy skulls, trick or treating for street parades, and emphasizes remembering deceased loved ones.
Although traditional to the Sardinian Day of the Dead, Pabassinas have become a beloved tradition on Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos. These sweet raisin cookies are delicious treats at any Day of the Dead celebration.
- 3 3⁄4cups all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4cups sugar
- 1 – 1⁄4 package active dry yeast
- 1⁄2 fine sea salt
- 1⁄2 ground orange powder or 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1⁄2 of cinnamon
- 3⁄4cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1⁄4 cups golden raisins
- 1 1⁄4 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, shelled and finely chopped
- 1⁄2cup milk
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1⁄4 vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1⁄2 oz. teaspoon vanilla extract
- colors and sprinkles added to icing for decoration
- Place rack in the middle and preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, salt, orange powder (or zest), and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add flour, using your finger rub butter into flour forming pea sized chunks.
- Add raisins, almonds and walnuts, use spatula to combine.
- Add 1⁄2cup milk, water, and vanilla, use spatula to combine. Note: you can also use a stand mixer with paddle attachment to make this entire recipe.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured counter. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to 1⁄4–1⁄2 inch thick.
- Use a cutter in any shape you like, cut out dough. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Because there is yeast in the dough, and depending on the size cookie cutter you use it can sometimes take up to 30 minutes. Just check until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and place on cooling rack until completely cooled before decorating.
- While cookies are baking, make icing to decorate (optional). Place confectioner’s sugar, egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in stand mixer with paddle attachment, or large bowl with hand mixer. Mix until combined well.
- Adding colors to icing:Add a tiny drop at a time to play with different colors. If you add too much, the icing will become too runny. You can split the batch of icing to make separate color, or simply double the recipe to have tons to play with.
Fave dei Morti – Italy
These soft, chewy cookies whose name translates to “Beans of the Dead” are made in celebration of Italy’s All Souls’ Day. A mild holiday in comparison to many cultures, Italians simply take the day to think of loved ones who have moved on.
- 1 1⁄4cups of almonds
- 1⁄5cup of pine nuts
- 2⁄3cup of all-purpose white wheat flour
- 2⁄3cup of powdered sugar
- 1⁄2 of Lemon peel, grated
- 1 tsp. of cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. of Grappa
- 2 egg yolks
- Process almonds in a food processor (be careful not to over process or the almonds will release their oil), then the pine nuts. In a bowl, beat the whole egg with the egg yolks and the grappa (grape spirit).
- Put the flour, ground almonds and the sifted powdered sugar on a pastry board. Then add the ground pine nuts and mix with your hands, making a well in the middle. Lastly, add the grated lemon zest and the cinnamon.
- Pour the egg and grappa mixture into the middle of the well and knead until you have a firm, soft dough.
- Take a piece of dough and roll into a ½-inch thick rope, then cut into ½-inch pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and repeat until the dough is used up.
- Place the small balls on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, until lightly colored, but not browned.
- Take the cookies out of the oven and allow to cool.
Spiced Pumpkin Punch – United States
Some of you have most likely broken out in a nervous sweat by now. “This is Halloween, where is the pumpkin?” You’re asking as you scroll further into the spice-less abyss.
We’re bringing this trip around the world to a comforting end with help from the titan of Halloween. Whether you’re camped out for trick or treaters or admiring costumes at a party, here’s some seasonal alcoholic fun.
- 1 ounce pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/8 tsp. ginger
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 ounces ginger beer
- Garnish: (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients, except the ginger beer, in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, don’t panic, just use a teaspoon to mix things up.
- Strain ingredients over ice in a rocks glass.
- Stir in the ginger beer and garnish your cocktail with a cinnamon stick and a couple sage leaves, if you’re feeling fancy. An extra dash of cinnamon never hurts either.
There’s no debate that Halloween is one of the greatest food holidays around, so what are you waiting for? Grab your broom and fly over to the International Food Club for the ingredients you need to celebrate the right way.