Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. The costumes. The silliness. The spookiness. It's a great time to get creative in the kitchen... but who has time for from-scratch baking and intricate party planning? That's why we took some shortcuts at the supermarket to turn seasonal treats into DIY projects. Here are a dozen of our favorite ideas--so simple it's downright scary!
By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
Start with chocolate cookie dough--either a slice-and-bake tube or from scratch--and a small bag of candy corn. Bake according to package or recipe directions, then remove from the oven and decorate with candy corn. Note: Candy corn will melt if baked.
Make a batch of meringue batter. Spoon into a pastry bag or a plastic bag with one corner snipped. On a sheet pan lined with parchment, pipe two 1" dots next to each other, then another two dots 6" directly across. Connect the dots with a single line of meringue. Repeat, leaving one inch between each "bone." Bake as recommended. Bonus: Using a drawing of a skeleton as a template, pipe a ribcage made of meringue. What an eye-catching piece that would be!
Make or heat up meatballs, then prepare your spaghetti and pasta sauce as desired. Slice four green olives with pimientos. To serve, plate up the pasta and sauce, then top with two cooked meatballs sliced in half. Top each meatball "eye" with one olive slice. Bonus: Serve up spinach pasta with pesto to up the ick factor!
Prepare a batch of sugar cookie dough (or unwrap a tube). Form approximately two tablespoons of dough into long, thin, fingerlike shapes. Place one almond at the end, pointy end facing the edge. Bonus: Tint your cookie dough with green food coloring. "Paint" the almond "fingernails" with a thin glaze tinted with green or red food coloring. Use a toothpick to draw knuckle lines.
Buy or make chocolate cupcakes and pipe on black icing. Top with spooky colored sprinkles.
Whip up a batch of pumpkin or squash soup. (Or open a can!) Meanwhile slice the tops off small pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Reserve the seeds for toasting. Spritz the inside of the pumpkins with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until the flesh is tender. Ladle in the soup. Don't serve the soup in raw pumpkins---they'll impart a weird starchy taste and texture.
Buy marzipan, which is made from almond paste and is commonly used in European desserts, or fondant. Roll out and cut into squares. Drape over pre-made cupcakes (not frosted), then add faces using black icing.
Roll out a batch of sugar cookie dough to about 1/4" thick. Use Halloween cookie cutters to cut out themed cookies, then bake and let cool. Try your hand at decorating--use tubes of frosting to save time.
Buy or make cheese popcorn. Place 1-2 cups in the middle of a square of plastic wrap. Use a black or green ribbon to secure the popcorn balls. Bonus: Make Caramel Popcorn instead!
Prepare chocolate pudding. Spoon into fancy glasses and top with mini marshmallows dotted with melted chocolate. Use more melted chocolate to pipe words onto parchment. Let cool and adorn your glass with your spooky sayings. Bonus: Use pistachio pudding or multi-colored marshmallows to gross out your guests even more!
Buy or make chocolate cupcakes. Frost with chocolate icing and decorate with pull-apart black licorice and chocolate chips dotted with red frosting for eyes. Don't forget to give each spider eight legs. Shortcut: Top cupcakes with spider rings or toys to save time.
Make your favorite cake into cake pops. Then roll out either fondant or marzipan. Cut into squares and place over cake pops. Add faces from bits of black fondant or marzipan.