Get ready to elevate your Halloween celebrations to a whole new level of spooktacular with our California Walnut-inspired recipes! This season, we’re conjuring up a bewitching blend of flavors and creativity that will cast a delicious spell on your taste buds. From hauntingly wholesome treats to sinfully scrumptious delights, the magic ingredient is none other than the versatile and nutritious California Walnut.

Let the kitchen enchantment begin!

Baked Pumpkin Custard

A baked pumpking custard
Baked Pumpkin Custard (image courtesy: Sabyasachi Gorai)


6 small sugar pumpkins, approx. 400g each, and about 4-inches in diameter (to be used as decorative bowls)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup non-fat or low-fat evaporated milk
6 tablespoons chopped, toasted California walnuts

*NOTE: These crustless, individual custards can be baked either in small, hollowed-out pumpkins or in ramekins. Instructions for both methods are given.


1. To prepare the pumpkins, if you are using them, remove the stem end from each, and scrape the seeds and fibers from inside the pumpkins. Cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each pumpkin, so they will sit flat, without wobbling.

2. Alternately, coat 6 ramekins, each about 170g capacity, with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Preheat the oven to 230°C In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt, and stir with a whisk or spoon until evenly blended.

4. Add the eggs and pumpkin puree and beat until completely mixed. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk, stirring until smooth.

5. If you are using pumpkins, divide the filling among them, pouring about 1/2 cup into each. Place the pumpkins on a parchment-lined shallow baking pan, with their tops next to them. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue baking about 1 hour more, or until the pumpkins are tender when pierced. If the tops are done sooner, remove them.

6. If you are using ramekins, pour about 1/2 cup of filling into each. Place the ramekins on a shallow baking pan.

7. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 163°C and bake about 25 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the filling comes out clean or almost clean.

8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool (cool for an hour if baked in pumpkins).

9. Serve the custards warm, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of walnuts. Accompany with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. The pumpkin lids may be placed atop the pumpkins, or at a jaunty angle alongside. 

Mini Graveyard Dirt Cakes with California Walnuts

Cakes in little glass jars with cookies stuck on top that read RIP
Mini Graveyard Dirt Cakes (image courtesy: Sabyasachi Gorai)


70ml white chocolate melting wafers
8 California walnut halves
1 small tube of black decorating gel


3 cups vanilla whole milk yogurt
6 chocolate sandwich cookies
1/2 cup California walnut halves



1. Prepare a baking sheet with wax paper.
2. Place white chocolate in a small microwave-safe dish. Heat chocolate in 15-second intervals, stirring with a spoon between each interval, until the white chocolate is almost melted (you don’t want the chocolate to burn). Stir chocolate vigorously until all wafers are melted.
3. Using a fork, dip each California walnut half into the chocolate, cover with chocolate, then remove, shaking excess back into the bowl. Place walnut halves onto wax paper.
4. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove halves from the refrigerator and write the letters “RIP” on each walnut halve using the black decorating gel.


1. Layer yogurt at the bottom of four short and wide mason jars or glass bowls.
2. Add cookies and walnut halves to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form, about one minute.
3. Spoon crumbs overtop yogurt. Place two gravestones in each mason jar graveyard. Serve or refrigerate until serving.

California Walnut and Wild Mushroom Hand Pies


Baked tarts filled with walnuts
California Walnut and Wild Mushroom Hand Pies (image courtesy: Sabyasachi Gorai)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup (50 mL) cold cream cheese, cubed
3 tablespoons whipping cream (35 % M.F.)


1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
2 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cups combination of shiitake caps, oyster, and chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup California walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beate



1. Pulse flour and salt in a food processor.

2. Add butter and cream cheese, and pulse just until dough forms pea-sized pieces. Drizzle cream evenly over the dough and pulse until it begins to clump.

3. Remove dough from processor, pat into a round (add 1 tablespoon cream if the dough does not hold together), wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (up to 2 days).


1. Pour boiling water over crumbled porcini mushrooms, and let stand 10 minutes.

2. Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add fresh mushrooms and California walnuts to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add wine and porcini mushrooms with water, and cook for 7 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, and cool. Stir in cheese. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

4. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 circles.

5. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the mushroom mixture to center of 12 circles. Brush edges of pastry with egg, place remaining rounds of dough on top and crimp edges with a fork.

6. Slit tops with a knife. Arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg.

7. Bake in the centre of a 180° C heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Serve warm.