I am the worst pumpkin carver in the world.
1. As a horribly indecisive girl, unless I start brainstorming and drawing designs in April, my perfectly plump pumpkin spends Halloween on the kitchen counter looking wistfully at the candy bowl as each ghost, goblin, and witch knocks at the door. (It’s true—2 years ago, he stayed there until November 14th when I finalized his face.)
2. I’m afraid of knives. It’s one thing to chop carrots and celery with a harmless paring knife, but wielding the huge chef’s one to cut off the pumpkin’s stem and slice up its skin? A whole different ballgame.
3. The guts. Oh, the guts. They’re slippery and slimy, and my squeamish stomach always turns a circle or two as I pull out the strands.
4. I forget to plan ahead for the seeds. Each year, I want to try toasting them with cinnamon sugar—no, chili and cumin!—no, basil and garlic!—no, nutmeg and ginger!—but I fail to set out a separate bowl or bag. They end up stuck to the gross guts, and I can’t bring myself to touch the slimy mess again to salvage the seeds.
5. I’m a perfectionist. I sketch, erase, redraw, and retrace the face five times before I take a deep calming yoga breath… and stab the pumpkin. And I repeat the process for each eyeball, nose, and toothy grin. (And ears, if I include them.) So I basically need to start at noon if I want to finish before the sun goes down.
6. I’m a worrywart. What if the candle tips over… and the pumpkin bursts into flames… and takes the whole house down with it? (No wonder Halloween is such a scary holiday!) Can’t I just stick a flashlight inside instead?
To avoid a bit of the trauma and drama (and to procrastinate some more on sketching this year’s smile), I turned to a different medium for carving. One a little less scary and a little more sweet. One that would use up the candy hiding in my coat closet.
Jack-O-Lantern Rice Krispie Treats!
To make these cuties, you’ll start with the set-up. Be sure you lay down the wax paper, measure the marshmallows and cereal, uncap the food coloring, cut up the candy bars, and count out the chocolate chips before you begin melting the butter. The steps fly by quickly, so you need to be prepared!
The rice krispie treat recipe is fairly straightforward. My only tweak is adding extra marshmallows (compared to Kellogg’s) to make them moister and gooier. You’ll also want to pour the cereal into the pot (instead of the melted marshmallows into a bowl) because the hot pot keeps the mixture warm. This allows you to shape every pumpkin treat before the cereal mixture hardens and becomes brittle.
Time to work quickly! Immediately press one Twix half cut-side down into the top of each “pumpkin” you just molded. It should still be warm enough to melt the caramel and chocolate to make the Twix stick, but you can also press the rice krispies up against it to keep it in place.
However, the chocolate chips refused to attach for me. Although really tempted to eat them all and just give you plain pumpkins, I persevered with my secret weapon: a culinary torch.
Lay the chocolate chips on their sides on a cutting board, light the flame, and quickly pass it over the chocolate chips’ flat bottoms once. Only once! The bottoms should look like you barely misted them with water. If you leave the flame on the chocolate for too long, the tops melt too, and you can’t pick them up to press onto the “pumpkin” for the face!
These Jack-O-Lantern Rice Krispie Treats are sweet, simple, and quick. They’re an adorable festive Halloween dessert and bound to be a huge hit—they have both chocolate and candy!
So I might be a bad pumpkin carver, but at least I’m a pretty good jack-o-lantern creator!