Delicious Horror: Gaby Triana

For our second “Sleepy Hollow” feature on Delicious Horror, check out this gorgeous creation by the fiercely talented Gaby Triana! She recently launched a very fun YouTube channel, The Witch Haunt! Gaby is a great writer, friend, and baker, and I was so thrilled when she agreed to do a post for this! Enjoy!

GABY TRIANA is the author of the Haunted Florida series (Island of Bones, River of Ghosts, City of Spells), Wake the HollowCakespellSummer of Yesterday, and more novels, as well as a contributor in DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and co-author of PARADISE ISLAND: A Sam and Colby Story.  

Published with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Entangled, and Alienhead Press, Gaby writes about witchy powers, ghosts, haunted places, and abandoned locations for adults, teens, and kids alike. She has ghostwritten 50+ novels for bestselling authors, won an IRA Teen Choice Award, ALA Best Paperback, and Hispanic Magazine’s Good Reads Award. Gaby also runs the boutique writing services agency BookwitcheryYouTube Channel The Witch Haunt, and lives in Miami with her family and gaggle of four-legged aliens. She is currently working on her next YA novel, Moon Child

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

Not necessarily a horror book, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is a favorite Fall short story of mine. I chose it because, growing up a little Cuban-American girl in Miami, Florida, a place with only two seasons—dry and rainy—“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” showed me what an American autumn could be like. With its apple pies, pumpkin soups, bite of crisp, cool weather, a love triangle, a clash between the classes, and a legendary ghost riding over the hills and rivers (I didn’t even have hills and rivers), this short story is a colossal dose of atmospheric moodiness to make my gothic heart happy.

I love this story so much, I make my whole family sit down every September to watch Disney’s Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. My kids cringe now but they’ll appreciate it when they’re older (ha ha). I used to play the movie in my classroom years ago when I was an elementary school teacher after we read the story together, and it’s even the backdrop for my YA novel, WAKE THE HOLLOW, about a Latina 18-year-old who learns that her estranged mother has passed away in Sleepy Hollow under mysterious circumstances. What follows is a paranormal thriller set in Irving’s homeland of Tarrytown, NY with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” serving as the subplot to a fresh main plot at its core.

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

I am pairing the short story with “Heads Will Roll Apple Cider,” a lovely macabre drink for a brisk Fall day. Although “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is mostly the story about schoolteacher Ichabod Crane meeting the coquette merchant’s daughter Katrina VanTassel, and being cockblocked (can I say that?) by the town hero Brom Bones, we can’t think of this tale without the iconic Headless Horseman coming to mind. This ghost of a Hessian trooper rides over the Pocantico River in search of his head and has been known to lob off a few for his collection. So I’ve made an apple cider punch, infused with cinnamon sticks and anise pods, throwing in a few bobbing shrunken heads as well. Enjoy!

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

  • 1 gallon of your favorite brand apple cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 3 round apples, such as Braeburn or Gala variety
  •  Chunks of dry ice, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Peel 3 apples, then slice off 2 sides of each apple to create 6 “faces.”
  3. Using a melon baller, ¼ teaspoon, or a paring knife, core out eyes, nose, and mouth on each face. Try to make each face different. Get as creative as you want here. The more detail, the more lifelike and spooky the final result.
  4. Place cut side down on a baking dish and bake for about 2 hours, or when heads are dried, shriveled, and lightly brown on the outside. When done, cool on baking rack.
  5. Warm the apple cider in a large pot on medium-high. Throw in cinnamon sticks, anise pods, and whole cloves. Once the cider comes to a light boil, turn off the heat and remove the cider. Let cool. 
  6. Transfer the cider to a punch bowl (remove the cloves but leave the cinnamon sticks and star anise pods) and float the shrunken head apple faces on the surface.
  7. Add a chunk of dry ice to the punch, if you wish to create a spooky effect, and serve!

Check out this video of the drink bubbling with dry ice that Gaby sent! And you can also now catch the whole process on her YouTube channel here!

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