Tricky treat! Do or Dine’s George McNeese dishes out a dessert recipe

Tricky treat! Do or Dine’s George McNeese dishes out a dessert recipe
Photo by Bess Adler

Get just as creative about your cooking as you are with your Halloween costume with this recipe from Do or Dine’s George McNeese, one of the most talented chefs in the city. Here’s his take on a killer October delicacy that combines just about every taste and texture you could ever want when you’re jonesing for a sweet but sophisticated treat. McNeese calls it a “Marsh-Malloween,” and if you can make it half as good as he does, there’s no way you won’t come out looking like a kitchen genius.

Crunchy base:

1 quart hazelnuts

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

7 cups Japanese puffed rice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Roast the hazelnuts at 350 degrees until golden brown. Coat them in olive oil and salt. Blend them on lowest setting until nice and smooth, going for the consistency of a butter spread.

In a small pot, combine corn syrup and sugar and heat on the stove, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Add this to the hazelnut butter and mix in the puffed rice.

Spread this concoction out into oiled 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Allow to cool. Cut into any shape you want. Yes, that means you can use your impulse-purchase cookie cutters.


1 cup fresh carrot juice

1 cup light corn syrup

3 packs unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup cocoa nibs

Equal parts powdered sugar and cornstarch (about 1/3 cup of each).

Combine 1/2 cup of the carrot juice with gelatin and reserve in a large mixing bowl. Combine the remainder of the carrot juice, sugar, salt, and corn syrup in a medium size pot.

Heat over medium-high heat until you reach a temperature of between 237–240 degrees. Remove from heat. Pour into mixing bowl containing the gelatin and add the vanilla.

Use an electric hand mixer on its lowest speed to combine the gelatin into the heated mixture.

When combined, turn mixer up to the highest speed. Mix until it becomes a very thick, marshmallow-like consistency.

Cover a sheet tray with a mixture of the corn starch and powdered sugar (this keeps the marshmallow from sticking).

Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the sheet tray and spread out to desired thickness. Sprinkle the cocoa nibs on top, and then coat with enough of the cornstarch and powdered sugar to keep it from being sticky. Cool in refrigerator.

Cut into any shape you want, provided that said shape is larger than the shape you cut for the base of the dessert. Place the marshmallow on top of the puffed rice and hazelnut mixture and broil until marshmallow is melted.

Optional, but seriously cool garnish:

2 limes

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons caramel

Peel limes, leaving as much pith as possible. Cut each lime into eight wedges. Mix salt and sugar together. Pack the lime wedges into the salt/sugar mixture and place in refrigerator. Leave for ten days. After ten days, wash the salt and sugar off of the lime wedges. Coat in caramel and sear in a cast iron skillet, pith side down. Place on top of marshmallow.

It’s alive!: The “Marsh Malloween” is a dessert that’s packed with texture and flavor, containing Japanese puffed rice, hazelnut butter, carrot juice, and cocoa nibs, garnished with a caramel-glazed preserved lime.
Photo by Bess Adler