In 2014, one-third (33.4 percent) of American consumers planned to host or attend a Halloween party (National Retail Federation). This year, treat Halloween guests to an equally classy and spooky extravaganza by trading plastic plates and prepackaged pumpkin cookies for upscale food and themes.

“Add grown-up flair to Halloween by throwing a sophisticated party that rivals the fun of trick-or-treating in years past,” said Beth Nielsen, chief culinary officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. “Instead of offering bite-sized candy, serve upscale treats like Nielsen-Massey’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream that are made to impress.”

For a party that wows even the most solemn of skeletons, consider the following tips for an unforgettable bash:

– Before the party, compile literary passages from favorite mystery novelists and poets like Edgar Allen Poe. Use a permanent marker to write the references on white plates and bake them in the oven in order for the writing to set. 
– Embrace the Halloween spirit by giving appetizers creative monikers. Mix apples and extracts together to create a pot of Mulled Whiskey Cider and identify the autumn drink as the “Steaming Cauldron.” 
– Select a popular television series or movie and encourage guests to arrive dressed up like one of the characters. Choose the best costume and award the winner with gourmet chocolate. 
– Add a mystical glow to the evening by bringing elements of nature indoors. Try arranging tree branches in a black vase and string with mini lights for a spooky ambiance.

As a seasonal dessert, serve a batch of Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Almond Maple Crunch (recipe below). Made with pure pumpkin and Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla and Pure Lemon Extracts, this creamy treat with a sweet crunch makes for the perfect ending to an elegant party. 

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Almond Maple Crunch 
(Yield 1½ Quarts) 

Ice Cream 

1 cup 100% pure canned pumpkin 
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract 
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract 
¼ teaspoon salt 
2 cups heavy whipping cream 
1 cup whole milk 

Directions 

In a 4-quart glass measuring cup, add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, lemon extract and salt; stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator; add cream and milk; stir to combine. 

Assemble ice cream maker. Turn ice cream maker on and pour pumpkin ice cream mixture into *frozen container. Let mix until ice cream thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and freeze overnight. 

*Follow manufactures directions for freezing container, 24 hours or longer is ideal. 

Almond Maple Crunch 

1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds 
¼ cup pure maple syrup 
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract 
¼ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Directions 

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla and almond extracts; set aside. 

Coat a large heavy skillet with cooking spray and place on medium-high heat. Add chopped almonds, stir continuously, just until almonds are toasted, about 3 minutes. Pour maple syrup mixture over warm almonds and stir until almonds are coated, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from heat and place almonds evenly on parchment paper to cool. Then evenly sprinkle warm almonds with cinnamon. Top Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Almond Maple Crunch before serving. 

Visit www.nielsenmassey.com for additional vanilla- and flavor-infused recipes.