Column: Halloween-themed treats that'll surely spook-ify your party
"Boo!" to you from the The State News crew.
With the Halloween festivities arriving momentarily, I am here to help you find the perfect assortment of spooky treats that’ll spice up your holiday-themed party and keep your guests hungry for more.
Growing up, my mother's good friend Vicki Abair used to make these sweets for the annual neighborhood family-and-friend Halloween bash that she’d host.
Since I was one of the older kids on the block, I was usually invited over a few hours in advance to help her prepare, and she always left me in charge of crafting these delights, meaning I always got to taste test them first (the best part!)
Ingredients (makes 24)
- 24 strawberries.
- White chocolate candy melts.
- Mini chocolate chips.
- Wash the strawberries. Dry gently by patting with a paper towel.
- Melt all of the white chocolate candies until smooth.
- Place a large piece of parchment or wax paper onto a flat surface. Have the bowl of melted white chocolate and a bowl of the mini chocolate chips at the ready beside you.
- Holding lightly by the stem, dunk the strawberries in the melted white chocolate, leaving a little room at the top of the fruit.
- Place them carefully – to avoid drippage – on the sheet of paper.
- While coating is still warm on the berry, place two of the mini chocolate chips near the top to create the eyes. For the mouth, cut the tip off of a mini chocolate chip and press it in with the bottom side up.
- Let dry for 30-45 minutes. Serve chilled.
The sight and smell of my father’s famous deviled eggs never really appealed to me until I was older – you could say, when my taste palate developed and matured.
Ingredients (makes 16)
- 8 eggs.
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
- Black pepper.
- A few drops of red food coloring.
- Boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Be sure that there is enough water in the pot so that the eggs are completely covered. Drain and rinse in cold water.
- Peel the shells off of the eggs once they are cool enough to handle. You can do so by pushing the egg down lightly against a clean, flat surface and rolling it around with the gentle pressure of your palm. Rinse the eggs to remove any last shell fragments that may have stayed stuck on.
- Cut each egg in half, lengthwise, and gently scoop out the yolks.
- Add the yolks to a bowl, along with the mustard, mayonnaise, and a generous pinch of both salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until smooth and whipped.
- Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix again. Repeat this process several times until you achieve a shade of pink that you are happy with.
- Scoop the yolk mixture into a piping bag – a regular, Ziploc bag with the corner cut off works just as well. Use this to fill each empty egg white, then pipe on the brain pattern – little wiggly lines on each side and a straight line separating down the middle.
- Serve chilled.
In all honesty, I’ve never had the guts to try a jalapeno. Intense spice and I have a very complicated relationship, but these bread wrapped bundles look too cute to turn down.
Ingredients (makes 20)
- 10 jalapenos.
- 8-ounces of room-temperature cream cheese.
- 8-ounces of jack cheese, or your favorite cheese, shredded.
- 1 green onion, finely chopped.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 package of refrigerated Pillsbury Sweet Hawaiian crescent rolls.
- 2 eggs, beaten.
- Candy eyeballs.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese, your choice of shredded cheese, green onion and salt. Continue until even and smooth.
- Slice the jalapenos in half, lengthwise, leaving the stems and removing the seeds.
- Roll out the crescent dough and separate into 4 rectangles, NOT triangles. Press your fingers into the perforations to seal them.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut each rectangle into 10 pieces, or as many as possible without making them too thin, lengthwise. The slices do not have to be uniform, it makes for originality between each mummy.
- Scoop the cheese mixture into each jalapeno half, filling to the brim. Pack as much as you want for extra cheesiness.
- Wrap one strip of the crescent dough around each stuffed pepper. Leave a space for the candy eyes to be added later. You can use two strips of crescent dough if necessary. Feel free to change up the wrapping style to go with that bit of originality mentioned before.
- Place the jalapenos onto a baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg mixture, making them extra shiny and crispy.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. The thicker the dough strips, the longer the bake time.
- Remove the mummy poppers from the oven and press the candy eyes into the empty spaces you should have left for them.
- Serve while warm.
Everybody loves a good chocolate-dipped pretzel rod, there’s no denying it. Since my days of elementary school bake sales, these little sweet-and-salty treats have definitely held a place near the top of the list as one of my favorites.
Ingredients (makes 28)
- 28 blanched almonds.
- 1 tube of black gel food coloring.
- 14 large pretzel rods.
- 12-ounces of bright-green frosting.
- Use a small, food-safe paint brush to coat the top of each blanched almond with a black gel food coloring. Wear food-safe gloves to avoid painting your own fingertips.
- Set aside on a small sheet of parchment or wax paper to dry.
- Break or cut each pretzel rod in half.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, pour the bright green frosting and set the timer for 30-second increments. Stir every time the alarm goes off to prevent overheating and or burning. Continue until it is completely melted and smooth.
- Holding a pretzel rod by the unbroken end, dunk it in the green frosting, leaving a little room at the base of the stick.
- Place the pretzel on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper and immediately press one of the gel-painted almonds on the frosting-coated tip of the pretzel rod.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all of the pretzels have been accounted for. While doing this, keep a sharp eye on the pretzels you have already dipped. When the frosting has started to dry and has a mostly matte look to it (meaning not completely hard), it's the right time to add the wrinkles for the knuckles.
- Take a toothpick and, holding it perpendicular to the pretzels, gently roll it across the top. Make two sets – one near the fingernail and one set halfway down the finger – similar to your own fingers.
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes and serve chilled.
Now let's eat, drink and be scary. And be sure to holler "trick or treat!"