Welcome to Better Than It Looks, a series in which we discuss the recipes we tried (and maybe failed) to execute, and the foods that were served to us by someone perhaps more talented than ourselves.
Not everything you cook has to be healthy. Not every baked good has to look like your Pinterest page vomited onto a woodland fairy’s dinner table. Sometimes it’s important to really lean in to trash food that requires zero skill and would give you scurvy and rickets if you had to survive on it on a desert island.
Which is to say, I have made these Rice Krispie treat pumpkins twice in two weeks. I’ve had them in the morning with my coffee... several times. And I want you to know about it.
My descent into madness began when BuzzFeed’s food gnomes put out this list of cool spooky Halloween treats. As an adult person who enjoyed Tim Burton a lot as a teenager, Halloween is my shit. So is sugar consumption. I was also thrilled about these pumpkins because I had managed to get myself invited to trick or treat with my friend’s children, who are both allergic to eggs and nuts. I’m fond of these kids and was confident the right thing to do would be to bring them treats, but also not to accidentally kill them. A fine balance, if you will.
But I’m no novice, so a full week before Halloween, I bought a bag of marshmallows, some food coloring, and some Mike & Ike’s to test this shit out. (The recipe calls for green licorice to make the stems, but those are actually hardish to find and green Mike & Ike’s will do just as well.)
There was no need for a dry run. This is a five ingredient recipe. You could absolutely train a reasonably competent chimp to make these, if you were confident he could keep stirring and not get bored. If you’re a baking star like me, here’s what you do: melt some butter. Melt an entire bag of marshmallows, minus the 7-10 you’ve taken to test for possible poison. Throw in some red and yellow food coloring. Admire the weird toxic ooze you’ve just created.
Lastly, throw in six goddamn cups of Rice Krispies, essentially almost an entire small box of Rice Krispies. The only place where you could possibly go wrong here is attempting to form these pumpkin balls while the Rice Krispie balls are slightly too hot. But really, you’re not gonna do that. What are you, a fool? Some kind of Krispies rookie? The hell you are. No one has not made these before.
The pumpkins came out just fine. I enjoyed them very much as a weekday breakfast item. The night before Halloween, I made them again, paying even less attention then before. They came out just as fine. Nothing is impossible to ruin, cooking-wise, but these are close.
I wrapped my stupid little pumpkins in a mound of saran wrap, dressed up like a mermaid, and made my way to my friend Mehera’s house, where she lives with her husband Jimmy and their progeny: Oliver, 6, and Iris, 2. Oliver had transformed into Darth Vader for the afternoon and was moderately excited about Halloween. Iris was dressed as Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice, complete with an extremely small bonnet atop her baby head and a basket that her mother insists is called a trug. She didn’t really seem to have much idea what was going on, but, as always, she seemed happy to be there.
We took the kids out in Cobble Hill, a somewhat swooshy neighborhood in Brooklyn that goes all the way the fuck out for Halloween. I had no idea. It was like child New Year’s Eve: teeny tiny little revelers flooded the streets, and a marching band wandered around near Cobble Hill Park. Ollie spotted some of his friends and they all nodded respectfully at each other’s Vaders and Spidermans and whatnot. Some other friends showed up with their dog, who was dressed as a dog.
Iris remained unclear on the concept of Halloween, but she was game. She quickly determined that she was supposed to toddle up to the people sitting on stoops with buckets of candy, and they’d hand her some candy. She wasn’t really that into saying “Trick or treat” before or “Thank you” afterwards, correctly determining that she was going to get candy anyway. She’ll go far.
We got home and Ollie dumped his haul on the floor to color-coordinate it. His parents sequestered all the stuff with nuts in it, which I helpfully began to eat. Ollie took a pumpkin and seemed to enjoy it. There’s a very good picture of him eating it thoughtfully while being photobombed by the dog, but I have been forbidden to show it in this space, because everyone is sitting on the floor in piles of candy and candy wrappers.
Anyway, it was tasty and no one died, which is truly the best you can ever hope for with regard to your Halloween treats. It was a success, in a small way, and thus, so am I.
Did you get ill or die from food over Halloween weekend?