Sandwiched between a Salvadoran restaurant and an addiction recovery center in a suburban strip mall, you’ll find some of Dallas’s most talked-about treats. Maricsa Trejo, owner and head baker at La Casita Bakeshop, got her start trading homemade hamburger buns for after-hours kitchen time at a brewpub in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. Word spread and her wholesale business took off. At coffee shops and restaurants around town, she was known for her flaky croissants and sourdough bread. Then, in 2020, she opened her own place in Richardson. A month later, the pandemic hit.
As Trejo and her husband navigated one of the scariest periods the industry had seen in decades, she leaned into her creativity and a special Halloween menu emerged. Returning in 2021, each of the sinister sweets has a backstory, inspired by her childhood love of “all things spooky” and horror films Trejo says she watched way too young.
The bloody hand pie—her first creation—uses a cookie cutter modeled after her own extremity and oozes cherry filling that mimics a gory scene from Chucky. A recurring dream featuring the undead is to thank for the flourless chocolate zombie cake featuring a matcha-colored hand gripping strawberry brains. There’s a Frankenstein scone, a werewolf claw, a cruffin topped with “glass” shards made from candy, and even an Oogie Boogie Tart for all the Tim Burton fans. New this year is the Scary Berries Swiss Roll. Bearing a resemblance to the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, it’s Trejo’s favorite to make because it has “loads of character.” The most frightening thing of all? La Casita Bakeshop is open only on weekends and the Instagrammable treats tend to fly out of the case. Preorder to guarantee your pick.
Trejo isn’t the only Texan getting into the Halloween spirit. Chocolatiers, pastry chefs, and even winemakers are leaning into their dark sides to build spooktacular creations ahead of October 31. Below, we rounded up a grab bag of more scary-good bakeries and just plain freaky treats from around the Lone Star State.
Bakery Lorraine, San Antonio and Austin
Beginning October 28, Bakery Lorraine’s Halloween menu returns to both locations. A Phantom of the Opera–themed cake takes center stage with layers of pumpkin spice sponge topped with a dark chocolate glaze. Other oddities include black cat and mummy tarts, a moon pie ghost, and haunted gingerbread cookies.
Chocollazo, San Antonio
Who says gourmet Belgian chocolate can’t have googly eyes? Mary Collazo, owner of Chocollazo, aims to create a “luxurious alternative to the typical trick-or-treat fare.” This year, her robust Halloween lineup includes everything from hot cocoa bombs in the shape of skulls and pumpkins to candy bar caramel apples to Oreos dipped in chocolate and disguised as monsters and skeletons. The chocolate coffins pack a spooky surprise—gummy worms and tiny chocolate bones.
Common Bond, Houston
A former winner of the Food Network’s Halloween Wars competition show, Sarah Ono Jones is behind Common Bond’s best-selling brain cake. She and her team hand carve the three-layer cakes, then pipe in buttercream for texture and add bright red “blood.” As Jones puts it, it’s both “gruesome and delightful.” For the squeamish, there’s the equally intricate Witch’s Brew cake, complete with green frosting, a broomstick, and a cauldron bubbling over with eye of newt.
English Newsom Cellars, Lubbock
From the vineyards of the High Plains come three spooky blends. When H-E-B asked Steve Newsom of English Newsom Cellars if he had any seasonal offerings in the works, he collaborated with a local graphic designer to create new themed labels for three premium wines. But, most important, how do they pair with candy? Newsom says the Haunted Cellars, a dry muscat, goes well with jelly beans and the Harvest Moon, an easy-drinking red blend, is milk chocolate’s perfect match.
Kate Weiser, Dallas
Chocolatier Kate Weiser is up to her old tricks again. Opt for the all-too-real-looking candy eyeballs and witch’s (butter) fingers, or try an interactive chocolate pumpkin and skull that, when smashed open, reveal even more treats, like malt balls, dark chocolate–covered orange peels and mini peanut butter cups. Not in Dallas? You can order online or find her creations at Central Market and select Neiman Marcus stores.
Milky Way Shakes, Austin
For when it’s still 85 degrees outside, look no further than the International Spice Station, a creamy vegan milkshake made with gluten-free pie crust from nearby bakery Pie Jacked, pumpkin puree, and a house-made pecan caramel. The kicker? A cartoonish bat topper made from leftover pie crust.
OMG Squee, Austin
According to Sarah Lim, one half of the husband and wife duo behind gluten-free bakery OMG Squee, “squee” is “the sound you make when you experience something delightable.” Suffice to say, everything they make fits that description. In addition to butter mochi doughnuts—which took a year to perfect and come in flavors like caramel apple and ube with black sesame—there are Japanese jack-o’-lantern cheesecakes and Taiyaki soft serve with mochi ice cream pumpkins. Lim also makes limited-edition character macarons—last year she was inspired by the characters of Beetlejuice and this year she plans to depict vintage Kewpie dolls in various costumes. But you have to be quick; they often sell out within fifteen minutes.
Uptown Sweet Shoppe, Amarillo
The sculpted pumpkin fondant cake at this Amarillo shop will make you do a double take and is the perfect centerpiece for a spooky soiree. There’s also a variety of festive cupcakes to choose from, including one made with confetti cake, Swiss meringue buttercream, and a candy corn core.