Transforming Everyday Party Treats into Oddly Creative Creations
Cooler crisp weather, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of roasted pumpkin seeds swirl in the air and the changing hues of fall foliage get me in the mood for pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides.
As October 31st quickly approaches, our family morphs into someone or something else. I am even more eager to host this year's Halloween Party and transform the ordinary, everyday party food into oddly creative creations. Envision a "boo-tiful" tablescape and change your average crudite into a cruel-dite, create spider-shaped sandwiches, mix-up some witches' brew and serve pull apart graveyard cupcakes.
After the last guests depart and the kiddos are in bed, are you left asking yourself, "What am I to do with all this candy?" Do you squirrel it away and parcel it out to the kids until Easter? Do you allow your kids to pick out a few favorites and exchange the rest with your dentist? Or perhaps if you are daring you could alter ordinary candy into a sweet desert.
Transform your leftover candies into a candy pizza that is as easy and fun for kids to make, and even tastes as great as it looks! Chocolate is mixed with mini marshmallows and crispy cereal to form a chewy, crunchy, chocolatey crust and is topped with candied fruit or candies, coconut, and drizzles of white chocolate. As if you thought candy bars weren't bad enough, try deep fried candy bars!
Spooky Veggies 'N Dip
• Put a dip of your choice in a small bowl and set in the center of a serving platter. Spread some dip onto carrot tips to form fingernails; set on platter.
• Heap green beans next to carrots. Dot ends of beans with ketchup to create snake eyes.
• Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place on platter, flat side up; top with an olive slice and a pea to create eyes.
Ham n' Cheese Spiders
• On two greased baking sheets, pat five biscuits into 3-1/2-in. circles. Cut one breadstick in half lengthwise, then in half widthwise, creating four strips. Repeat nine times (save remaining breadsticks for another use). Position eight strips of dough around each biscuit to resemble spider legs; twist and press lightly onto baking sheet. Tuck a 1/2-in. foil ball under each dough strip so it stands up in the center.
• Combine the ham, onion, butter and mustard; spoon 3 tablespoons onto each biscuit circle. Fold cheese slices into quarters and place over ham mixture. Pat remaining biscuits into 4-in. circles; place over filling. Pinch edges to seal.
• In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and water. Brush over tops of biscuits and breadsticks. On each spider, position two olive slices for eyes; place pimientos in center of olives. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until browned.
Bubbling Witches' Brew
• Place a few scoops of lime sherbet into the cauldron or punch bowl.
• Pour in the pineapple juice and ginger ale in equal parts until the container is full.
• For safe dry ice, fill a large spice ball with small chunks of dry ice and place into the brew.
Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes
• Arrange the cupcakes in 4 rows on a large serving plate or cutting board. Fit a marshmallow between each cupcake, 5 marshmallows per row, to fill in the gaps between the cupcakes. Spread the frosting over the whole rectangle so it looks like one cake. Sprinkle with the cookie crumbs and black decorating sugar.
• Make tombstones, ghosts, pumpkins and leaves.
• Use 6 pieces of the licorice, trimming to fit, to make a border around the cake, leaving the middle of the front side open. Bend the seventh piece into an upside down "U" and stick into 2 cupcakes in the front to make an arched gateway.
• Place the semi-sweet chips and 1.5 cups of white chocolate chips into a large microwave-safe bowl, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup of white chips for decoration. Microwave them in one-minute increments until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating. Once the chips are melted and smooth, stir in the rice crispy cereal and miniature marshmallows, stirring until they are evenly coated and well-distributed throughout the chocolate.
• Scrape the candy onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into a thin circle using a spatula or the back of a spoon. The exact size depends on your preference, but I like to make the candy less than 1" thick, so my pizza is usually quite large, over a foot in diameter. Sprinkle the candies you are using on top of the wet chocolate and press gently to adhere them. Sprinkle the shredded coconut all over the top of the pizza.
• Place the remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips in a small Ziploc bag and microwave it until they are melted, about 30-45 seconds. Knead the chocolate in the bag with your hands to get all of the chips melted and smooth. Cut off a small corner of the bag, and drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the pizza as a finishing touch.
• Refrigerate the pizza until it is set, about 45 minutes. To serve, cut or break it into small pieces. Store the pizza well-wrapped in cling wrap or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Deep Fried Candy Bars
• Freeze candy bars for at least 2 hours, until they are solid and frozen throughout.
• Start heating the oil for frying. Pour vegetable oil into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan until it is three inches deep. The exact quantity of oil required will depend on the size of your saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and insert a candy/deep fry thermometer. The oil needs to reach 375 degrees on the thermometer, which will take about 10 minutes.
• While the oil heats, prepare the batter. Place 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow bowl or pie tin and set aside for now. Place the remaining 1 cup of flour in a small bowl and stir in the baking powder and salt. In a mixing cup, stir together the milk, vinegar, and oil. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth and free of most lumps.
• Remove the frozen candy bars from the freezer. Dredge a candy bar in the flour, covering it completely. Holding it gently with two fingers, dip it into the batter until it is immersed, shifting your finger position so that it is completely covered.
• Quickly place the battered candy bar into the 375-degree oil, being careful not to drop it and cause oil to splash up. Monitor the frying candy bar carefully, as it can cook quickly. If it bobs to the surface, gently press it down with the back of a spoon so that it cooks evenly.