Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Halloween treats

·5 min read
Halloween apples, carved and baked. (Julie Van Rosendaal - image credit)
Halloween apples, carved and baked. (Julie Van Rosendaal - image credit)

There are always celebratory foods that go hand in hand with holidays, and Halloween is no exception.

Since it falls on a Sunday this year, we talked about the potential for spooky brunch dishes on this week's Calgary Eyeopener.

A few things made their way into the studio, including baked apples that we carved faces into first, then stuffed with brown sugar, raisins and walnuts, and dotted with butter, before putting them into the oven.

And then there's hand pie — not the small pocket kind, but a pie shaped like an actual hand, which you could fill with any number of fillings.

I made this hand pie apple, and sautéed the apples first to condense and cook them through, since the thin fingers require a shorter baking time than a typical pie.

Here are the recipes:

Halloween Apples

Baked apples are an old-timey kind of dessert but perfectly delicious — and well suited to brunch. I wound up topping them with granola (you could use granola to stuff them, but don't expect it to stay crunchy) and dollops of yogurt at the table.

I followed the Joy of Cooking for basic baked apple guidance.

Use any kind of apple you like, but keep in mind that McIntosh tends to be softer — easier to carve, but the flesh also tends to crack, and the resulting apples won't keep their shape quite as well.


  • apples (any kind)

  • brown sugar

  • raisins

  • chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

  • shake of cinnamon

  • butter

  • granola and yogurt, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Peel as many apples as you'd like to bake (though I think they would also look great with their skins, which would shrivel in the oven) and core them from the top, leaving the bottom intact. You just want to scoop a hole to fill with brown sugar, raisins and nuts. If you have a melon baller, this is a good use for it.

Carve faces into the apples using a small paring knife. You can be as simple or intricate as you like.

Put the apples into a shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix equal parts brown sugar, raisins and nuts, with a shake of cinnamon. For four apples, I used ¼ cup of each, but had lots left over.

Put the mixture into each apple hollow, and top with a piece of butter (about a teaspoon). Pour about ½ cup water into the bottom of the pan, cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, taking the foil off and basting with the cooking liquid after about 20 minutes. I actually basted them with melted butter, too, thinking it might help — you could do this or not!

They're done when they're just tender. Take them out and, if you like, reduce the cooking liquid with a bit more brown sugar until it's more syrupy, and drizzle over the baked apples.

Serve topped with granola and/or yogurt for breakfast, or with ice cream for dessert. Serves as many as you like.

Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Hand Pie

I made an apple hand pie, but you could use virtually any filling — berries would work well (though they may roll around as you try to fill it) or cooked ground meat.

I Googled a hand template online and printed it out on my printer to use as a guide, so that both top and bottom crusts were roughly the same.


  • 3 medium-large apples

  • canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking

  • 2 tbsp (approximately) butter

  • 1/3 cup (approximately) packed brown sugar

  • shake of cinnamon

  • pastry for a double crust pie, or 1 pkg puff pastry, thawed

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. If you like, make a hand template — I used a standard printer page to print the outline of a hand that filled the page, then cut it out.

Core and thinly slice your apples (I don't bother peeling them, but you could), set a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and a chunk of butter.

When the butter gets foamy, add your apples and sauté for a few minutes, until the apples are tender and starting to turn golden on the edges. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine everything well — the sugar will start to melt —then take off the heat and let it cool (at least slightly).

Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Divide your pastry in half and roll the first piece out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled mine directly on a silicone mat, so I could then slide it onto a baking sheet.)

Place your hand template on the pastry and cut around it with the tip of a paring knife, pulling away any excess. Scraps could be used to make knuckles and other details, if you're so inclined! Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet.

Beat an egg with a fork in a small dish or ramekin — you could add a splash of milk, cream or water, if you like, so it isn't so thick — and brush around the edge of the bottom crust to help the top crust stick. You don't have to be delicate about this — just brush it on, making sure it makes it to the edges.

Top with apples, piling them in the middle and down each finger and thumb, making sure there is about 1/3-inch of space to seal the top crust.

Roll the second piece of pastry out in the same way and use the template, cutting slightly beyond the edge — the top piece will need to be a bit bigger to accommodate the apples or other filling — and then place on top of the pie. Press around the edge with a fork or your fingers to seal, tucking back any rogue bits of apple or other filling. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Brush the top with beaten egg and cut a few slashes in the back of the hand to help steam escape — and poke a few in each finger, where the knuckles would be.

Add extra bits with the scraps of pastry, if you like. The egg wash will glue them on.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar (I use turbinado, or sugar in the raw) and bake for 30-45 minutes, until medium-deep golden.

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