Delicious Horror: Ellen Avigliano

Today I am back with a beautiful post created by Ellen Avigliano. I think you will really enjoy these photos and the care Ellen took in putting this together! Find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here.

Ellen Avigliano is an artist and reviewer based in New Jersey. She can be found on Twitter @imaginariumcs — on Instagram @thejackalopes.warren and @imaginariumarts; and she is also a writer and admin for Divination Hollow Reviews. On her website, she notes that common themes in her art include a focus on “modern cultural issues such as intersectional feminism, mental health, disability, LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, identity/gender roles, etc.” Find her artwork and more at

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

I chose to highlight The Familiars by Stacey Halls.  It is a beautiful story of the power of women, sisterhood, and a generally witchy read. It’s a slow burn, and very thoughtful.  I loved the historical fiction balanced with the fantastic, magical elements of witchcraft.  It isn’t something that is dark, gory, or overtly violent, but contains a lot of themes we often find in witchy reads: misogyny, women’s issues, pregnancy and pregnancy loss, the meaning of family/chosen family, etc.  It is also very moody and romantic in a way. I thought it really leant itself to a non-traditional choice in Halloween baking!  While it’s not the most obvious choice in “Horror” — it’s horror adjacent enough that I felt it had merit to be included. 🙂 Plus, how could you not fall in love with that cover art aesthetic?

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

I wanted to focus on the themes of femininity, witches, natural foraging, herbs, and the home of the characters.  I chose pomegranate and pumpkin seeds to show beauty, growth, and feminine qualities. I chose flax seed since it is recommended to pregnant women as well.  I incorporated the use of Earl Grey Royale tea for its delicate, fragrant perfume aroma and vanilla notes, and it is also representative of the English countryside and traditional teatime.  For my decoration I added starfruit to represent magic, ritual, and religious beliefs.  I thought it best to create something a little heavier and dense, that could hold you over for a time, to represent the fact that many of the characters were working class, may not have a lot, and would need sustenance for awhile. I wanted it to also have a woodsy feel, so using bright red berries, roasted pumpkin seeds, and yellow star fruit gave it an autumnal appearance. I wanted to find a balance between rustic and beautiful, to highlight the contrast between the upper/lower class characters in the story.

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

“The Familiars” Inspired Fruit Cake by Ellen Avigliano

(Gluten Free, Vegan)

3 Cups of GF Baking Flour (I used: 2c Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 as well as 1c almond flour)

1 teaspoon of finely ground loose leaf Earl Grey Tea (ground mind in a coffee grinder!)

¾ teaspoon of Lavender Sea Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Earl Grey Milk (1 TBSP Earl Grey Royale Tea, Steeped in 1 to 1 ¼ cups boiled non-dairy Vanilla Milk)

2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

½ Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

¼ Cup Pomegranate Seeds

¾ C White Sugar

¼ Cup Brown Sugar, packed

3 “Flax Eggs”

⅔ Cup Neutral Oil like Canola Oil

1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Optional: ½ cup of golden raisins or ½ cup of chopped pitted dates

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Boil one to one and ¼ cups of Vanilla non-dairy milk in a pot and set in 1 TBSP of earl grey tea to steep for about 5 minutes.  Strain and set aside to cool to room temperature.  When cool, mix in the 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar and allow to thicken slightly (may curdle, this is okay!)

To make a Flax Egg combine 1TBSP of ground flax seed with 2-3TBSP of water or non-dairy milk, let set aside until it forms a yolky, gel-like consistency. (You’ll need 3 for this recipe!)

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the GF Baking Flour, Ground Earl Grey Tea, Sea Salt, Baking Powder, Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Mix together well.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if mixing by hand) combine the following ingredients on medium speed: white sugar, brown sugar, canola oil, and Earl Grey Milk.  Mix well then add in the flax egg until thoroughly combined.

Switch the mixer speed to low, and slowly sift in the dry mixture ½ to ¾ of a cup at a time. Don’t worry about over mixing as gluten free flour does not get tough like regular flour when “overmixed.”  Mix until all flour mixture is well incorporated then remove bowl from stand mixer and gently fold in your pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and other dried fruit or nuts if using.

Line a 9” loaf pan with parchment paper, and spray generously with non-stick spray.  Pour the batter evenly into your pan and spread flat so the top is even.

When the oven is up to temperature, place the loaf pan on the middle rack close to the rear of the oven.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   Depending on the size, make, age of  your oven, cook times may vary; convection ovens do tend to have a tendency to cook up to 25% faster.  Some older ovens may take longer to bake (50-65 minutes) so keep an eye on your loaf and check for doneness occasionally.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a parchment lined wire rack to cool. Slice and serve when room temperature. Cake will be more dense and a bit closer to a fruit-cake or date-nut bread texture than a traditional airy cake.

*NOTE*: To achieve the decorated top as I did in my images, you’ll need a little bit of patience and a few extra ingredients. I used 1 ripe Starfruit, sliced into ¼ inch pieces.  Before filling the tin with the cake batter, I carefully laid them into the bottom of my loaf pan, then sprinkled extra pomegranate seeds around and in between. Once your fruit decorations are arranged as you like, carefully and gently pour the batter in over the top! When you demould your cake after it’s done, it should have a slightly caramelized star fruit and beautiful “upside down cake” appearance!

*NOTE*: I like to keep this cake refrigerated in slices separated by parchment. Then I toast them to have along with my morning coffee, with a little shmear of vegan butter like Miyokos, or vegan cream cheese!  Although this cake hardly lasted a week, in the past I have frozen and defrosted similar cake recipes before and it went fairly well! 🙂

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