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Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Halloween treats

Halloween has food associations like most holidays do — whether you’re into tricks, treats or just festive dishes you like to pull out once a year, here are a few fun recipes to add to your repertoire. 

Three balls of popcorn coated in chocolate.
These chewy chocolate popcorn balls cool at room temperature. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Chewy chocolate popcorn balls

  • 8 cups popped popcorn


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup or Roger’s Golden syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted — optional) 

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and put the popcorn into it.

In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until smooth. Once it comes to a boil, cook it for a minute, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat evenly. 

Let it sit for a few minutes, and when it’s cool enough to handle (but still warm and pliable) shape into balls. Let cool at room temperature, and wrap individually in plastic wrap or keep them unwrapped in a covered container.

Makes 8-10.

A pie with a skeleton's face cut into the crust.
This pie is made with dark berries. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Jack Skellington pie

The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 30 this year — it came out in October of 1993. This is a fun pie, and the dark berries make the eyes more dramatic.

Pastry for a double crust pie (or two frozen shells)


  • 4-5 cups blueberries or other dark berries (or a combination), fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cut into bits (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Divide the pastry in half, making one piece slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece out into a 12-inch circle; transfer to a pie plate and gently fit it in, without stretching.

In a medium bowl, toss the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps of cornstarch; add the berries (if they’re frozen, don’t thaw them) and the lemon juice. Pour into the pie plate and dot with butter.

Calgary Eyeopener7:07Julie Van Rosendaal on Halloween

Featured VideoJulie Van Rosendaal knocks on our door to get into the tricks and treats of Halloween grub.

Roll out the remaining pastry, making a circle slightly larger than your pie plate. Cut rough holes for the eyes and nose, and make the mouth with the tip of a knife, without cutting all the way through. Transfer to the top of the pie and trim the excess crust around the edge of the pie plate, pinching the pastry together to seal and pressing down all the way around with the tines of a fork.

Bake for about one hour and 15 minutes, or until the pie is deep golden and the juices have thickened. If it’s darkening too quickly, cover loosely with a piece of foil. 

Serves 6-8.

A bowlful of screaming donuts.
This fried dough resembles Edvard Munch’s The Scream. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Terri-fried dough 

I came across doughnuts resembling Edvard Munch’s The Scream on the internet last year, only they were made with that soft biscuit dough that comes in a tube. They’re so much tastier made with from-scratch yeasted doughnut dough. Sprinkle them with icing sugar or douse in cinnamon sugar while they’re still warm. 

  • 2 tsp (or 1 pkg) active dry yeast 
  • 3/4 cup warm water or milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened or melted 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • canola oil, for cooking
  • icing or cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling 

In a large bowl stir a big pinch of the sugar and the yeast into the water or milk and leave for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam. 

Add the flour, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and salt and knead until you have a soft dough. Continue to knead (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size. If you want to make it ahead of time, refrigerate the dough for up to 12 hours to slow the rise.

When you’re ready to fry them, divide into 10 pieces and roll each into an oval. Cut a mouth and some eyes — I used the end of a large icing bag tip for the mouth, and a chopstick and my finger for the eyes. Remember that the dough will swell as it cooks, so make the holes larger than you’d like them to be.

Heat an inch or two of canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it’s hot, but not smoking (350 ̊F is ideal if you have a thermometer—otherwise test with a scrap of dough or bread to see if it bubbles) and cook a few pieces of dough at a time, without crowding the pan for a minute or two per side, until golden.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, then sprinkle with icing sugar or douse in cinnamon sugar (put it in a baking dish or pie plate) while still warm. 

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen doughnuts. 

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