Hate giving candy on Halloween? ‘Build a photobooth,’ says Julia Sherman

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“Artists use their gathering as a laboratory and a space for experimentation,” says Julia Sherman. Throwing out the rules, getting guests to participate, and forgoing the restaurant-like service of a meal is part of the process. Create a rhythm and pace, where food is rolled out and guests are encouraged to share, she suggests. Sherman recalls a Halloween spent in Brooklyn when her distaste for passing out candy found her photographing trick-or-treaters in a DIY photo booth and texting portraits to families to commemorate the night. Both cookbook and entertaining inspiration, Sherman’s latest work is “Arty Parties.”

While living in Brooklyn, Julia Sherman found an alternative to candy for her trick-or-treaters — she created a photo booth and texted families pictures of their night on the town. Photo by Julia Sherman.

Tangy Banana Cream Pie with Date Nut Crust
Serves 8
Time: 25 minutes, plus time for crust to chill and bananas to cool

This “no-bake” pie is inspired by the classic Midwestern Banoffee pie, made with a store bought crust, bananas, whipped cream and dulce de leche. This healthier version has a raw, nut-based crust, sweetened with dates, suitable for your gluten-free friends and family. Store the leftovers in the freezer and you’ll get an ice cream cake-like result, perfect for slicing “just a teensy bit” off the end for a late night snack. 

This gluten-free, no-bake banana pie with a date nut crust is a perfect autumnal dish, where leftovers can be put in the freezer and served as an icebox pie. Photo by Julia Sherman.


  • ½ cup (70 g) toasted almonds
  • 1 cup (95 g) toasted walnuts pieces
  • ¼ cup (25 g) cocoa powder, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (170 g) packed pitted Medjool or halawi dates, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted almond butter
  • ¾ cup (360 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ cup (360 ml) labneh
  • Zest of ½ Meyer Lemon (sub Eureka lemon)
  • 5 ripe but firm bananas
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon unsalted butter


-Add the nuts to a food processor or high speed blender and pulse to the texture of coarse sand, stopping the blender periodically to scrape the nuts from the area around the blade and the edges of the bowl, careful not to make nut butter. Transfer the nuts to a bowl with the cocoa powder, salt, dates, and nut butter. Smoosh together using your fingers until well incorporated. Press into a 9 ½” tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for one and a half hours or overnight. 

-To make the topping, add the whipping cream to a large nonreactive bowl. Using a hand mixer on medium high, whip the cream until light and fluffy. Add the labneh, vanilla, zest and maple syrup, using the hand-mixer on low and mix just to incorporate evenly. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to assemble and serve. 

-When you are ready to serve, prepare the bananas. Peel and slice the bananas in half lengthwise. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and nestle the bananas together in a line, curving in the same direction on the center of the sheet. Dot with small blobs of butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and broil the bananas on the top for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the surface is rich, brown, and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. 

-Remove the pie crust from the freezer. Layer the bananas in a concentric circle on the base of the crust. Top with cream and dust with cocoa powder. Serve immediately

  • Makes good leftovers: Yes, store in the freezer. 
  • Make ahead: Make the crust ahead and store in the freezer. Store the whipped topping in the fridge, and broil the bananas and assemble when it’s time for dessert.
  • Season: Year round 

Entertaining is an art and Julia Sherman shares ideas of how to party like an artist in her latest book. Photo courtesy of Abrams.



Evan Kleiman