When we ponder the sugary side of Halloween -- which, don't be too shocked, is a rather significant part of the holiday -- we tend to picture the orange pumpkin bucket, the one that brims with wrapped candies of every stripe.
But seasonal sweets abound for the adults, too, and they don't arrive via plastic candy holder, and we don't need to go door-to-door. We only need enter the doors of a few Southern California restaurants to experience fearsome flavors that pop with a cheeky and chilling Halloween bent.
Salt & Straw: Anyone who's visited Portland knows that the city is a true capital of Halloweenia. So it fits that the new Salt & Straw on Larchmont Boulevard -- the famous ice cream shop's first outside-Oregon outpost -- has made some morbid flavors in honor of the macabre month. Candy Corn ice cream is on the list, as Essence of Ghost ("A mysterious mixture of scotch and vanilla sherbet with wisps of black cocoa swirled in") and Dracula's Blood Pudding ("A heady mix of spices and cream cooked into real blood pudding and spun in our ice cream laboratory").
What to do, where to go and what to see
Oh, we're scared. But not so scared that we won't take two scoops, on a cone, thank you. The flavors are available over the final week of October.
Ayara Thai Cuisine: Truly, autumnal goodies do not arrive prettier -- they do not -- than this only-around-for-a-little-bit treat. The Westchester-based restaurant re-introduces its much-requested Pumpkin Crème Brûlée on Oct. 17 for a "short time" only. And what makes it so pretty? The creamy yum arrives in a wee pumpkin. (Yep, you're permitted to "awww" over this edible.)
Cecconi's: In honor of Halloween, the West Hollywood eatery is going the luscious libation route. Pumpkin margaritas'll be in the house on Oct. 31, and over at Gracias Madre on Nov. 1? Pumpkin Cake complete with "candied pumpkin and piloncillo glaze with vegan cinnamon ice cream" is the treat in honor of Dia de los Muertos.
Let's break those two words out, for emphasis: Pumpkin. Margaritas.
Love those plastic candy buckets, but a dessert-y drink that arrives in a tall glass makes the creepy top cut this year, too, at least for of-age trick-or-treaters.