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An All-Ages Halloween Party

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A festive black bean soup, spicy nibbles, savory cornbread, and sweet treats.

A big pot of soup (orange and black, no less!) is the perfect main dish to refuel little (and big) goblins after trick-or-treating. Round the meal out with savory cornbread, prosciutto-and-tomato-studded salad, a warming spiced cider (spiked with rum for the adults) and an assortment of homemade sweets. This menu serves eight, with leftover treats to take home. You’ll need to double the Roasted Pepitas recipe; the shopping list reflects scaled-up amounts.

Menu Timeline

Up to two days ahead

  • Make the black bean soup.
  • Roast the pepitas.
  • Make the spiced butter for the hot cider.

Up to 8 hours ahead (at least 2 hours ahead)

  • Cook the prosciutto for the salad and bacon for the popcorn; reserve the bacon fat.
  • Make the caramel apples.
  • Make the fudge.

One hour ahead

  • Make the cornbread.

Just before dinner

  • Make the salad.
  • Reheat the soup.
  • Make the hot cider.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 8 small red apples, such as Braeburn, Gala, or Pink Lady
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 1 lime
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 7 oz. mixed salad greens, such as mesclun
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 fresh serrano or jalapeño chile
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chives or chervil
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 10 oz. (about 5 strips) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto (about 3 oz.) (if you prefer, you can skip the prosciutto and use more of the thick-cut bacon for the salad)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (more for the hot cider, if you like)
  • 4 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

Other Groceries

  • 2 quarts lower-salt chicken broth or homemade vegetable broth
  • Four 15.5-oz. or two 29-oz. cans black beans
  • 1-1/2 quarts apple cider
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups gold rum, such as Bacardi Gold; more to taste
  • 2 cups large raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 14-oz. bag Kraft caramels
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 6-7 oz. French bread
  • One 7-oz. jar marshmallow creme
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Assorted candies for coating the caramel apples: Reese’s Pieces, toffee bits or a Skor/Heath bar, candy corn, Red Hots
  • Craft sticks or sturdy skewers for the caramel apples

Pantry Staples

  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. (1 cup) stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs.  vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. aniseed
  • 8 to 10 long cinnamon sticks
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • Kosher salt

The Menu


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