Make spooky treats for your holiday table

Everyday ingredients can be used to create Halloween-inspired dishes that add fun to snacks and parties

Halloween is coming up fast but there’s still time to create some spooky foods ideal for snacks, dinners or holiday parties.

Popular motifs like witches, spiders and ghosts are easy to create. Make your favorite sandwich, then use a cookie cutter to create these spooky lunchtime staples. Then use the cookie cutters to create tasty desserts.

Other holiday themed entrees you can make include pumpkin pasties, witches’ finger sandwiches or a plain old cheese pizza with the toppings arranged to give the appearance of a carved pumpkin.

Toast the seeds of your jack-o’-lantern to create a delicious, seasonal treat, or shape toasted rice bars into seasonal shapes. You can spread melted chocolate on top or use food coloring to give them an orange tint.

Decorate cupcakes with orange frosting to create a pumpkin and add features with licorice and candies for a jack-o’-lantern.        

You can also make a red punch and float a pair of icy hands in it. Fill a pair of clean, non-powdered and non-latex gloves with water, then tie them tightly with an elastic band so no water will leak out. Lay the gloves on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once they’re frozen, cut the gloves off and place the hands in the punch bowl.

Another unexpected option is to place plastic spiders — wash them first — into an ice cube tray, fill with water and freeze. Or place gummy worms into your ice cube tray, add water and freeze. Use the cubes to chill your beverages, giving guests a fright.

Serve your meals in a spooky atmosphere. Paint miniature pumpkins black and attach wings made of black foam sheets to create bats, or wrap helium-filled balloons in cheesecloth, allowing plenty of fabric to trail beneath, tying the cloth off under the balloon to create flying ghosts.

Here are some other Halloween-inspired ideas from

Blood-Splattered Petit Fours With Sugar Glass

For petit fours:
1 frozen pound cake
1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Red food coloring
For sugar glass:
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

    Make a glaze by mixing powdered sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla together in a medium bowl.
    Trim the sides of the pound cake to make a more perfect rectangle, then cut cake into small cubes and dip into glaze. Make sure all sides are covered, then place on a cooling rack to dry for 30 minutes.
    Use chop sticks or a fork to dot petit fours with red food coloring for a blood-splattered look.
    To make the sugar glass, combine sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat for about an hour, until the temperature reaches 302 degrees. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Use an offset spatula to gently spread mixture. Let cool for about an hour, then break using a mason jar or other solid object.
    Grab a shard and use a basting or other pastry brush to paint red food coloring on the edges.
    Place “bloody” sugar glass into a petit four. Repeat with remaining cakes.


Halloween Monster Marshmallows

1 cup Wilton candy melts
1 tablespoon oil
8 jumbo marshmallows
Candy eyeballs

    Place chocolate in a bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, just until melted. Stir in oil.
    Place marshmallows on a silicone mat, foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pour a tablespoon of melted chocolate over the top of each marshmallow, adding more if necessary. Use the back of a spoon and move in a circular motion so chocolate runs down the side.
    Place candy eyes in chocolate. For a sunken eye look, add eyes before the chocolate sets. To have eyes that stay where you place them, let the chocolate harden most of the way. You can always add melted chocolate to the back of the eyes for them to stick if necessary.
    Let chocolate harden at room temperature.
    Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
    Makes eight servings.


Butterfinger Fudge

3 cups candy corn
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
7 ounces milk chocolate, melted
1 Butterfinger candy bar, chopped

Line a 9x9 inch square dish pan* with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
    Stir candy corn and peanut butter together in a medium saucepan over medium heat for three to four minutes, until candy corn begins to melt and break up.
    Add sweetened condensed milk and stir another three to four minutes, allowing everything to slowly melt together.
    Add white chocolate and butterscotch chips and melt over low heat for six to seven minutes, stirring, until mixture is smooth.
    Pour mixture into a 9-by-9-inch pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray. Chill until cooled and hardened.
    Once cooled, remove fudge from pan, place on cutting board and cut into one-inch cubes. Dip cubes into melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped Butterfinger crumbs.
    Makes 60 pieces.


No-Bake Vegan Pumpkin Almond Butter Cups

For pumpkin caramel almond butter filling:
1/2 cup roasted, mashed pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree, not pie filling
1/2 cup natural roasted almond butter or natural peanut butter
1/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For vegan coconut oil chocolate:
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon molasses or agave nectar or maple syrup
12 whole roasted almonds, for garnish, optional

    For filling, whisk together mashed pumpkin, almond butter, agave nectar, pumpkin spice and sea salt in a medium bowl until fully combined. Set aside.
    For vegan coconut oil chocolate, melt coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder and molasses.
    Place about two teaspoons chocolate in the bottom of each of 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Evenly divide filling over top. Divide remaining chocolate on top of muffin cups and lightly swirl with a toothpick, keeping a rustic appearance. Adorn with one whole almond per cup, if using.
    Freeze at least three hours. Six hours are needed for them to freeze solid. Once frozen, store in a sealed container in the freezer for as long as two months.  
    Makes 12 cups.
    To roast pumpkin or squash, place a halved and cleaned pie pumpkin or squash, face down, on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in a 375-degree oven for 45 minute to one hour, until they collapse and you can easily insert a knife in the flesh. Cool and scrape out flesh. If not using within one week, freeze roasted pumpkin or squash in a zip-top bag for as long as two months.
    Instead of vegan chocolate, you may use two bars dark or semi-sweet chocolate, melted.
    Instead of pumpkin pie spice, combine 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger.

Candy Corn Gelatin Shots

1 6-ounce package lemon gelatin
3 cups tequila
1 6-ounce package orange gelatin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Whipped cream
Candy corn

     Combine lemon gelatin and 2-1/2 cups hot water in a large bowl and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1-1/2 cups tequila and stir. Use a spoon to fill shot glasses one-third of the way. Refrigerate 60 to 90 minutes.
    Combine orange gelatin and 2-1/2 cups hot water in a large bowl and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1-1/2 cups tequila and stir. Use a spoon to fill shot glasses until they are two-thirds full. Refrigerate 60 to 90 minutes.
    Combine unflavored gelatin and 1-1/2 cups hot water in a large bowl and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Mix in sweetened condensed milk and stir. Use a spoon to fill the shot glasses to the top. Refrigerate 60 to 90 minutes.
    Top shots with whipped cream and candy corn.



Salted Caramel Candy Corn Bark

75 pretzels
16 ounces vanilla candy coating
11 ounces caramel bits
9 ounces candy corn or regular M&M’s

    Line a baking sheet with wax paper and butter or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place pretzels in the pan side by side.
    Melt caramels in a microwavable bowl according to package directions. Stir until smooth, then spoon caramel over each pretzel. Cool for five minutes.
    Melt the vanilla coating in the microwave according to package directions. Pour coating over the caramel and spread evenly. Place M&M’s or candy corn on top, working quickly before coating hardens. Once hard, cut or break into pieces. Peel wax paper from the caramel  and serve.


Pumpkin Patties

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup light corn syrup
4 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons orange or candy flavor extract
Gel or paste food coloring
1/2 cup sugar
18 pretzels, broken in half
10 green candies such as Starburst Laffy Taffy

    Combine butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Add 2 cups powdered sugar, food coloring and extract, 1/2 teaspoon, and beat until well combined and the mixture reaches the desired flavor.
    Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
    Turn mixture onto a cutting board sprinkled with remaining powdered sugar and knead until sugar is absorbed and mixture is smooth.
    Shape into one-inch balls, then roll in granulated sugar. Flatten gently with a fork. Gently press one half of a pretzel into the top of the pumpkin, using a second pretzel to stabilize, to create stem. Repeat for all candies.
    Tear off a small piece of green candy and shape into a leaf. Stick it on the pretzel. Repeat for all candies.
    Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for one day, then store in an airtight container.
    Makes three dozen.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffle Mummies  

1-1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
White chocolate chips or white dipping chocolate
Red food coloring

    In a large bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs, pumpkin puree, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt and cream cheese and mix until smooth.
    Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and mix into mixture. Cover and chill about one hour in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in freezer, until dough is solid enough to roll. Roll mixture into 12 to 14 balls and place a toothpick in each ball.
    Melt remaining white chocolate chips or dipping chocolate in a small bowl. Use toothpicks to dip each ball into the white chocolate, being sure to coat all sides. Gently shake off excess chocolate. Place truffle balls on a baking sheet or plate lined with wax paper, parchment paper or foil and chill for three to five minutes, until chocolate hardens.
    Drizzle more white chocolate over the truffles. Soak the end of a Q-tip in red food coloring and dot with food coloring to make mummy eyes. Handle carefully so you don’t wipe off the eyes. Store chilled in airtight container.
    Makes 14 mummy truffles.


Raw Vegan Witches’ Finger Cookies

1 cup strawberries or raspberries
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews
Generous pinch sea salt
1 heaping cup tightly packed pitted medjool dates
About 20 blanched whole almonds

    Blend berries and chia in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a Mason jar or glass and let sit a few hours to overnight, until it thickens into a jam. Add an extra tablespoon chia seeds if it’s too thin.
    Add sesame seeds, cashews and salt to a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Grind about 15 seconds, until broken down. Add the dates and continue processing until the mixture resembles a crumbly, sticky raw dough.
    Take a small handful of dough and roll into a strip that’s about as long and wide as a finger. Shape to form knuckles and a fingertip.
    Use your finger to make an indentation at the tip. Place a small amount of jam to the indentation. Press a blanched almond on top to create the fingernail. Serve.
    Store cookies in refrigerator for about one week.
    Makes 16 to 20 cookies.




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