Midnight Mai Tai

I mean, what better way to celebrate a Friday the 13th in October?

This Midnight Mai Tai features a spooky twist on the classic tiki drink with the addition of activated charcoal.

If you know me, you know I’m not the superstitious type, but when a Friday the 13th also happens to fall within the spookiest month of the year, I feel it’s only appropriate that we celebrate with a dark-as-night Midnight Mai Tai. You feel me?

But before we get to the recipe, I want to take a minute to send out thoughts and prayers to all my dear friends in Napa and Sonoma Counties who have been quite literally living in their own type of apocalypse this past week.

As you may know, I lived in Napa for three years before moving to Santa Barbara, and I can say with confidence that I made the best group of friends and had the strongest sense of community living there than any other city I’ve lived in in my life. It’s a small town with a big reputation, but everyone supports each other and lifts each other up.

While most of my friends are currently safe, I am sad to say that my dear friends from college lost their home in Santa Rosa. They’re estimating that their house burned down only 10 minutes after they were able to get out with what mattered most – themselves and their three little boys.

We also have a good friend who is a firefighter up there, taking on the daunting task of getting these fires under control, and we are praying for his safety and courage every day.

It’s a very sad time for many who I still call my closest friends, and I feel helpless being so far away and somewhat limited in what I can do, seeing as we could be welcoming our baby girl into the world any day now. Nevertheless, we’re finding ways to help, and if you’re interested in doing so as well, please feel free to reach out and I will steer you in the right direction.

A Midnight Mai Tai is the perfect spooky cocktail to kick off the weekend.

With all that being said, I’m sharing this Midnight Mai Tai recipe with the hopes of providing a small bit of fun distraction amongst a barrage of unsettling news. It’s also my hope that, by the time Halloween rolls around, my friends’ worlds will have returned (as much as possible) to normal and they’ll be ready to enjoy a festive cocktail or two.

Activated charcoal has become one of my new favorite ingredients, especially during the month of October when inky black foods are hip and on-trend, for quite some time now. In fact, last October I shared this recipe for a Total Eclipse cocktail, which is still one of my favorites today. I also have a fun dessert to share with you later this month that gets a Halloween-esque hue from the popular new superfood. How fun is that?

So this year for my annual activated charcoal cocktail, I decided to put a spooky spin on the classic Mai Tai. I love a good Mai Tai, and it is certainly my drink of choice whenever I’m in Hawaii or visiting another tropical locale. That being said, I didn’t want to mess with the classic recipe too much.

Midnight Mai Tais use activated charcoal to give them their inky black color, perfect for Halloween!

In this Midnight Mai Tai recipe, you’ll find the requisite rum, orange curacao, lime juice and orgeat, but then you’ll add just a smidge of activated charcoal (which you can easily find on Amazon) to give it that jet-black color that makes it so fun.

So no, this isn’t a complicated recipe, but right now I think it’s just what we need to kick off what will hopefully be a relaxing weekend. We’re hoping to hit up our local Harbor & Seafood Festival and maybe a pumpkin patch to get in the Halloween spirit before baby comes. We’re trying to get in as much quality time as possible before we’re a busy family of three!

Midnight Mai Tais are the perfect cocktail for Halloween!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well and, remember, if you’re looking for ways to help those affected by the fires up north in Wine Country, leave me a comment below!

Midnight Mai Tai
Prep Time
5 mins

This spooky take on the classic tiki drink uses activated charcoal to achieve a rich, inky black color. The perfect cocktail for Halloween!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 3/4 ounce orange curacao
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • 1/4 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • Pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella, to garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake to combine. 

  2. Strain ingredients into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. 

  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella and enjoy!

Midnight Mai Tai | CaliGirlCooking.com

“Boo-zy” Oreos

Boy, have I got a fun Halloween treat for you today!

This fun take on the classic cookie features a bright orange, boozy filling. The perfect Halloween treat!

And an “adult” fun Halloween treat at that….That’s right, I’ve made you “Boo-zy” Oreos in every sense of the word. Not only do they have a seasonally appropriate orange buttercream filling, but said filling is also spiked with a generous amount of orange liqueur. Jell-O shots, you’ve met your match.

Since we’re not too sure when Baby D will decide to make her arrival (we’re within the two-week mark!) I’ve decided to not hold back and start sharing as many of my Halloween-themed recipes as possible. I’ve got a few fun things lined up and want to be sure I share them all with you before I’m too busy cuddling up with a snuggly newborn. These “Boo-zy” Oreos are the perfect way to kick things off and I can’t wait to tell you all about them.

These "Boo-zy" Oreos are the perfect adult Halloween treat!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, and his TKO recipe is one of the main reasons why. It’s the first recipe I dared to make after picking up a signed copy of what seemed like a fairly challenging cookbook at my local Napa bookstore when I lived there, but I soon discovered that, even though his recipes are long, they’re not as challenging as they look.

Since I first made the TKO’s (his name for those yummy chocolate shortbread cookies filled with white chocolate cream), I’ve ventured into a few more of his recipes, never to be disappointed. I’ve made his Chocolate Chunk and Chip Cookies and used a version of his Sticky Bun dough as my base for these Weekend Hazelnut Sticky Buns with Date Caramel. Plus, I’ve got a fun holiday recipe coming up next month using the base recipe for his homemade Vanilla Marshmallows. I guess you could say I’m officially a Bouchon Bakery Cookbook convert.

For these “Boo-zy” Oreos, I didn’t think twice about using TK’s TKO cookie dough as the base recipe for the chocolate shortbread, although I did venture out a bit with the filling in order to make it hold up better to all the booze I wanted to add. In all honesty, I tried riffing off his filling recipe at first, but the orange liqueur made it too thin and runny and the only way we could enjoy the cookies was straight out of the freezer (not that I was complaining about that or anything.)

A stack of "Boo-zy" Oreos ready to be enjoyed this Halloween!

For the second run at these cookies, I created more of a buttercream filling that turned out much thicker and creamier – it worked like a charm! The result was the perfect chocolate shortbread cookies I was used to with my beloved TKO’s, but with a creamy, boozy (and bright orange!) buttercream filling.

You can tell just by looking at these beauts that “Boo-zy” Oreos are the perfect special treat to whip up for Halloween. Even though the recipe looks long, if you just take it step by step it’s really not that difficult at all. Just be sure to read through everything first so you can plan accordingly. A couple of the steps require overnight (or very long) rests in the refrigerator, so you’ll need a couple of days to get everything prepared and ready to assemble.

Finally, I highly recommend that you invest in at least a mediocre kitchen scale (doesn’t have to be super fancy) for making these bad boys. Many of Thomas Keller’s recipes refer to weights instead of cup/tablespoon/teaspoon measurements and, as much as I’ve tried to round up or down to make it easy on you guys, I really have noticed the difference in using the EXACT amount he calls for of each ingredient.

"Boo-zy" Oreos are the perfect adult treat to bake up this Halloween.

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me. Read on for the recipe for “Boo-zy” Oreos and have a wonderful rest of your week!

"Boo-zy" Oreos
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins

This fun new take on the classic sandwich cookie features a boozy orange filling surrounded by delicious chocolate shortbread. The perfect Halloween treat!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 20 cookies
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
For the "boo-zy" buttercream:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound (3 3/4 cup) sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • 12-15 drops orange food coloring
For the chocolate shortbread cookies:
  • 259 grams (1 ¾ cups + 1 ½ tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 87 grams (1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons) high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharfenberger)
  • 1.6 grams (3/8 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 227 grams (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 grams (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 161 grams (3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) sugar
  1. First, make the filling. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate until just before you’re ready to use. 

  2. Next, make the cookie dough. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

  3. Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-low until smooth. Add the salt, beat for an additional 15-30 seconds, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. 

  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two additions, mixing until a crumbly dough comes together. 

  5. Dump dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and mold into a 6-inch square block. Wrap block up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days. 

  6. After dough has had time to set up in the refrigerator, remove both the dough and frosting so they have a little time to soften up. You’ll want the dough soft enough to roll out with a rolling pin and the frosting soft enough to scoop into a piping bag and pipe onto the cookies.

  7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

  8. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and, using a rolling pin, roll it out to approximately 1/8-inch thick, rotating the dough as you roll it to avoid cracking. 

  9. Once dough is rolled out, use a 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter to cut it into cookies. Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. 

  10. Remove cookies from oven and let cool completely before adding the filling. When cookies are cool, scoop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe a ring of frosting about ¼-inch in from the edge on every other cookie (the frosting will smoosh out to the edges once you top the frosted cookies with the plain cookies.) 

  11. Enjoy your “Boo-zy” Oreos right away or refrigerate them until ready to eat, up to a few days.

Recipe Notes

Chocolate shortbread cookie recipe adapted from the TKO recipe in Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

"Boo-zy" Oreos | CaliGirlCooking.com

22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes

Happy Halloween!!

22 Quick & Healthy Halloween Recipes | CaliGirlCooking.com

I hope you had a great weekend and are pumped to keep  the party going all through today. Nothing like a super-spooky, candy-filled holiday to get us through a Monday,  am I right?

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been gallivanting around O’ahu since Friday, eating my way through the island with my dad, cousin, aunt and uncle in tow. My dad and I have no desire to be out and about with the crazy young ‘uns that will be swarming the streets of downtown and Waikiki this evening, so you’ll find us laying low in our hotel room, eating takeout and drinking wine tonight.

So you know what my semi-boring (but very much desired) Halloween night means? I want to celebrate vicariously through all of you! And to help you celebrate in THE best way possible, I’ve compiled 22 tasty, healthy-ish Halloween-themed recipes that you can easily throw together today, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.

So, without further ado, check out these fun recipes from some of my awesome fellow food bloggers!


Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread by Abra's Kitchen | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Abra’s Kitchen

Toxic Swamp Halloween Smoothie

Toxic Swamp Halloween Smoothie by Fuss Free Flavours | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Fuss Free Flavours

Baked Pumpkin Streusel Doughnuts

Baked Pumpkin Streusel Doughnuts by Marsha's Baking Addiction | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Marsha’s Baking Addiction

Pumpkin Juice

Pumpkin Juice by Healthy Slow Cooking | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Healthy Slow Cooking

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie + Chocolate Chia Pudding

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie + Chocolate Chia Pudding | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
The Little Pine

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili by Abra's Kitchen | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Abra’s Kitchen

Sesame-Roasted Maple Chipotle Delicata Squash

Sesame-Roasted Maple Chipotle Delicata Squash | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Viktoria’s Table

Zoodles with Pumpkin Kale Pesto

Zoodles with Pumpkin Kale Pesto | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Tasting Page

Eerie Alien Eggs

Eerie Alien Eggs by Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine

Pumpkin, Couscous & Chickpeas Salad

Pumpkin, Couscous and Chickpeas Salad by Sin-a-Mon Tales | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Sin-a-Mon Tales

Spider Web Taco Dip

Spider Web Taco Dip by Palatable Pastime | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Palatable Pastime

Halloween Spooky Screwdriver

Halloween Spooky Screwdriver by Culinary Ginger | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Culinary Ginger


Boo-tini by Sew You Think You Can Cook | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Sew You Think You Can Cook

Crockpot Apple Cider

Crockpot Apple Cider by Go Eat and Repeat | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Go Eat and Repeat

The Witch’s Heart

The Witch's Heart by The Flavor Blender | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
The Flavor Bender

5-Minute Caramel Apple Dip

5-Minute Caramel Apple Dip | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Fork in the Kitchen

Happy Healthy Black Halloween Ghosts

Happy Healthy Halloween Ghosts | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Veggies by Candlelight

Pumpkin Pudding Trifles

Pumpkin Pudding Trifles by Go Eat and Repeat | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Go Eat and Repeat

15-Minute Bailey’s Pumpkin Mousse

15-Minute Bailey's Pumpkin Mousse by The Flavours of Kitchen | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
The Flavours of Kitchen

Maple Pumpkin Dip

Maple Pumpkin Dip by Healthy Seasonal Recipes | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Chocolate Pear Ghosts

Chocolate Pear Ghosts by Fab Food 4 All | 22 Quick & Easy Halloween Recipes at CaliGirlCooking.com
Fab Food 4 All

Everyone PLEASE have a happy, fun and safe Halloween. I can’t wait to hear what you dressed up as,  cooked, ate and drank!

Total Eclipse

I’m going creepy-crawly on you today!!

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com

Look at that dark-as-night cocktail. So spooky! The Total Eclipse is here to stay, at least until Monday 😉

Since I’m going to be in Hawaii with my pops for Halloween (hunkered down in our hotel chowing on some sort of Korean takeout, no doubt, because no way will we be venturing into the streets of Waikiki on such a crazy evening), I figured I’d start the celebration a little early and make an eerie black cocktail to get in the Halloween spirit.

My secret to the crazy color of this tasty Total Eclipse? Activated charcoal! Guys, I think I may have found a new favorite ingredient for turning any and all recipes the darkest shade of black.

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com

I have to admit, I’m not the first one to jump on the activated charcoal cocktail bandwagon. I first tried a drink using this new “it” ingredient when I attended this year’s Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival Cocktail Competition. The theme was “Year of the Mule,” and I’m pretty sure I tasted every single version of a mule under the sun. The one with the activated charcoal really stood out, though. Not necessarily because of the taste (it was reminiscent of some sort of tincture or cough medicine), but because of the crazy color! I immediately knew I had to do some research on this new and intriguing ingredient.

Lucky for me, Amazon now sells everything under the sun, and I was easily able to snag an ample bag of activated charcoal. Now I just had to figure out what to do with it!

A quick brainstorm sesh with the hubs (my go-to for all things cocktail) led to using some sort of white rum. Maybe the midnight color of the charcoal made us think of pirates? No idea. We just knew we didn’t want to use any alcohol that had any color to it, so as not to mess with the already inky color of the drink.

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com

Activated charcoal doesn’t have much of a taste to it, which makes it perfect for mixing into cocktails just for color. When I was researching, I found an article from Food & Wine stating that bartenders used to use squid ink to lend a black-ish color to their drinks. Unfortunately, this was a bit limiting, as the squid ink imparted somewhat of a saline flavor into whatever they were making. With the activated charcoal, you don’t have to worry about that!

Because there’s not much taste, I decided to make a slightly modified version of my favorite light rum cocktail that has loads of flavor – the mojito! Of course, I had to tinker with it a bit to make it my own, and thus the Total Eclipse was born. Pretty spooky-cool, huh?

The recipe is incredibly simple. You’ll need all of the basic mojito ingredients – white rum, lime juice, fresh mint, simple syrup, soda water – plus some angostura bitters. Don’t leave these out! They were the final nail on the coffin for this drink (pun completely intended.) And of course, we can’t forget the star of the show, the activated charcoal!

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com

We’re going to muddle, shake and stir for this Total Eclipse, because we need all of the flavors to combine “just so.”

We first muddle the fresh mint with the simple syrup right in the glass.

Now we throw the rum, activated charcoal, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with a good dose of ice and give it a good shake.

Next step is to pour this into the glass with the muddled mint, ice and all.

A splash of soda water, a dash of angostura bitters, and a little stir, and you’re good to go!

I don’t know what your plans are for the weekend (or Halloween, for that matter,) but if you’re looking to scare a delicious drink into someone, this Total Eclipse is most definitely your answer.

You’ll have to mix some up and enjoy them for me while I’m busy eating my way through Oahu!

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com

Total Eclipse

A spooky, jet-black cocktail just in time for Halloween! Activated charcoal lends the inky color, while rum, fresh mint and lime juice give it all the flavor.

Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 5-7 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces soda water
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  1. Place simple syrup and mint leaves in the bottom of a rocks glass and muddle to combine.

  2. In a cocktail shaker loaded with ice (about enough to fit in the rocks glass), add the white rum, activated charcoal and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 15 or so seconds, then pour into rocks glass.

  3. Top with soda water, then bitters. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Click the links in the body of the blog post to purchase activated charcoal from Amazon.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Total Eclipse | CaliGirlCooking.com


Trick or treat?!

Lychee Lightnings

Happy Halloween-eve!

Lychee Lightnings | CaliGirlCooking.com

Today I am treating you with a cocktail recipe that I’ve had stuck up my sleeve for, say, 5 years now? I know, I’m so sorry I’ve been holding out on you.

I’ve been wanting to share this for a while, and after coming across a super cute “Halloween twist” to put on canned lychees, I decided now would be a better time than ever.

These sparkling wine cocktails materialized one night when my cousin and I were getting ready for a night out on the town in Honolulu. We LOVE lychee (please, please, please try it if you haven’t already, you can find canned lychee in the Asian section of most major grocery stores or, of course, on Amazon!) and we LOVE sparkling wine, and when we threw all of it together we couldn’t help but dance around the kitchen with excitement. It’s now a “must make” every time we get together.

Lychee Lightnings | CaliGirlCooking.com

And I finally get to share it with you! This is the perfect drink for multiple occasions (or no occasion at all!) There are only 3 ingredients (well, four if you count the lychees and their juice as two) so it’s not one of those cocktails that you need a full bar to prepare. Do me a favor and whip these up for your next girl’s night or holiday party or, even better, for Halloween tomorrow night!

Can you believe it’s already almost November?

(Oh! And don’t forget to “fall back” on Halloween night. See, you can even have more than one of these cocktails because you get an extra hour of sleep!!!)

Lychee Lightnings | CaliGirlCooking.com


Cheers, friends!

Lychee Lightnings

Yield: Makes 1 cocktail


  • 1 ounce sake
  • 1 ounce lychee juice (from the can)
  • 5 ounces sparkling wine (this is our house sparkling wine, it works perfectly for this drink!)
  • 1 lychee
  • To "spookify" the recipe (totally optional): 1 maraschino cherry, stem removed


  1. Add sake, then lychee juice, then sparkling wine to a champagne flute. Place maraschino cherry inside the lychee and drop into your drink. Enjoy!
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Lychee Lightnings | CaliGirlCooking.com