Halloween weekend is coming up, and you don't need a costume to get in on the sugar-fueled action. Here are the top places in the Phoenix area to stock up on Halloween treats, check out special menus, and join in on some beer-centric celebrations. Plus, we'll give you a the recipes you need to make your own desserts or reuse leftover candy in a creative way.
Whenever there's a reason to celebrate, look to this organic bakery for a themed cupcake perfect for the holiday or occasion. And you know they're damn good because under the name Ollie Cakes this local legend won Food Network's Cupcake Wars. This roundup of four Halloween cupcakes does not disappoint: brown velvet ghosts, vanilla and chocolate spiders, and double chocolate spooky eyes. Plus, pumpkin-flavored cupcakes make an appearance with orange cream cheese frosting.
Want to be the best neighbor on the block? Trick-or-treating doesn't have to be all about Snickers, Reese's, and Tootsie Rolls. Find unique favors at local candy purveyors Smeeks in Biltmore's UNION. Treats include Abba-Zaba, Whimsical Candy, candy corn taffy, Millie's Caramels, pumpkin Pop Rocks, Box of Boogers, and much more.
If you want to be the local hero this Halloween, support the longest-running confectioners in the Valley. Cerreta has been making delicious chocolates, truffles, and other candies in downtown Glendale for over 40 years, and you can stop by the factory or any number of Phoenix area retailers to fill a white bag with lots of cellophane-wrapped sweets.
Frighten your palate in the best way possible -- eating delicacies that might freak you out a little (okay, maybe a lot). Every year Petite Maison, one of Scottsdale's most renowned French restaurants, celebrates the spooky season with a limited-time Halloween menu featuring offal. This year you can get a taste from Thursday, October 31, to Sunday, November 3. Courses will include lamb tongue pastrami with Brussels sprout "kraut" and pickled mustard seeds, as well as a frightening combo of veal sweetbreads, beef heart, boudin noir, cassoulette, and black truffles. Even dessert will feature duck liver. The four-course dinner is $69 per person, wine pairings included. Tables fill up fast; book yours today online or by calling 480-991-6887.
This Saturday, the Zombie Walk takes over downtown Phoenix, and 5,000 zombies will be doing a slow-paced shuffle through the center of the city. All those zombies will need something to wash down the tasty brains, and Rose & Crown will be providing just the thing. From 2 to 11 p.m., stop in at the beer garden. Also look for Italian food and sangria from Crust Restaurants.
To some people, every holiday is an excuse to drink beer. Hell, to some, every day is an excuse to drink beer. If that sounds like you, the must-do Halloween event of the season is the Brews & Boos Benefits hosted by Phoenix Ale Brewery on Friday, October 25. The event, which runs from 4 to 9 p.m., includes beer tasting, a costume contest, live DJs, and an art show by Arbitrary Arts. Entry is $10 per person, and a portion of proceeds benefits the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Looking for a place to carouse in costume on the 31st? Halloween goes island style at Hula's annual Freaky Tiki bash. The party kicks off at 6 p.m., and happy hour pricing will be continue all night long. At this ghoulish celebration, you can down a zombie cocktail that's strong enough to reawaken your undead spirit. The night will include live music by the Undead Band, a costume contest, and specials for those in costume.
Nothing will wow you friends at a Halloween bash more than candy corn that you made in your own kitchen. Then again, if it stays in your kitchen and you eat it all before sharing it with guests or even family members, we won't blame you. All it takes to make is some butter, powdered milk, vanilla, food coloring, and a whole lot of sugar - in granulated, powdered, and syrup form. There's no candy thermometer required, and you'll feel like you're playing with Play-Doh.
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Have too much leftover candy and can't stomach another Butterfinger or gummy bear? We have the perfect solution: wrap it up with other sugary goodness to transform it into a fun and flavorful treat. This sushi-turned-dessert uses crisped rice and, instead of nori, fruit leathers. Pretty much anything can go in the middle, especially if you add Nutella. Fill a small dish with chocolate sauce for a faux soy dip, break out the chopsticks, and enjoy!
Too grown up for candy? If you're trying to avoid hydrogenated corn syrup and chemical food coloring, make this dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth on All Hallow's Eve. After one bite of this pumpkin tart -- complete with a splash of bourbon to match your mulled cider -- you'll no longer start to fiend when you hear the excruciating crinkle as your kids tear into a knee-deep pile of individually wrapped Milky Ways and Mounds bars.