I’m not crazy about spending a ton of kitchen time whipping up a recipe that is overtly holiday themed. While each season brings its particular focus into the items I make, I tend to shy away from recipes that are clearly meant for themed parties.
Part of this is due to the fact that many of these recipes are decorating-heavy: a sugar cookie shaped and colored to look like a pumpkin is still a sugar cookie. A cupcake designed to look like a ghost is just a cupcake with a shit ton of frosting on it. And so on. Although I love sweets, I prefer my baked goods simple. Elaborate confections of icing, sprinkles, and carefully placed accessory morsels usually add little to the taste or experience of the baked good, aside from the mess that they inevitably cause.
And… yes, I’m admittedly terrible at decorating baked goods, at least to the extent that they look like little black cats or witches on broomsticks. I can frost a cupcake, sprinkle powdered sugar daintily on a bundt cake, and uniformly sprinkle thumbprint cookies, but when it comes to matching a baked good with a well-crafted, well-staged picture (see accompanying photograph for an example) I suck.
But, with the sheer abundance of Halloween recipes, there were bound to be at least a few that were good enough to try despite their garish decoration. Here are five recipes that I’ve spotted that seem like they might be worth the trial for the decorating-challenged such as myself:
– How to Make Halloween Cocktails Frightfully Delicious – Okay, so this is sort of cheating, but Halloween-specific cocktails appeal to me far more than a carefully shaped sugar pile. Paul Abercrombie gives the reader several great ideas for a spooky holiday cocktail party, including White Zombies, Blood Orange Margaritas, and the intriguingly named Corpse Reviver #2 (the new name of my soon-to-be-formed metal band).
The only thingscary about most Halloween-themed cocktails is how frightfully bad they taste. From the ghastly Candy Corn (equal parts Baileys, vanilla liqueur and butterscotch Schnapps), to the merely gut-wrenching Jack-O-Tini (bourbon, sour-apple Schnapps and cranberry juice), devil’s night drinks tend to taste more like tricks than treats. Which is why we’re strongly suggesting you shake up one of the following organic concoctions (unless, of course, you really are trying to poison your guests).
– Halloween Bloodshot Eyeball Truffle Treats – Mmm… the Oreo truffle. It doesn’t take much for me to want to make and/or eat them. What I like about these Halloween-themed truffles is that the more misshapen they look, the more appropriate they are as a gross-out treat.
– Red Hot Devil Macaroon Lollipops – Red Hots. Chili spice. Macaroons. Swooon. I like spicy and sweet and these bright crimson cookie pops really fit that description. Plus, they look really neat and seem very easy to assemble. Style and substance! These are on my to-make list.
So, to add spice to your Halloween party, add an additional dose of these super spicy chilli flakes in one of the macarons chilli chocolate ganache filling and play macaron roulette the same way as sushi roulette. I know it’s evil but fun!
– Blood Hummus – This is a beet-based, beet-red hummus that appeals to the small part of me that wants to only eat food that is colored like something out of Rainbow Brite. It also appeals to the very large part of me that wants to gorge on hummus every day.
– Spooky Ghost Meringues Recipe – Um… look, I know what you’re thinking. “Em, didn’t you just write about how hopeless you are at shaping sugar into ghost-like visuals and how that is responsible for the fact that you hate holiday-themed treats and are just a big jerk ruining everyone’s Halloween?” Well, first off, ow, that hurt. Second of all, these are meringue cookies, which only look like big piles of fluffy icing, but are instead delicious little piles of airy cookie. Plus, even though you have to pipe these little guys out, a small hole cut into the corner of a plastic bag is more than sufficient. Plus they bake fast and are likely to be gobbled up even faster.