Spooky treats complete any Halloween party

Halloween is all about disguises and things that are not what they seem.

If you’re hosting a party, your guests will be expecting food that is creepy, spooky and maybe a little odd. They’re also expecting you to stick to the traditional Halloween color scheme of orange and black, with a splash of blood red.

You’re likely to spend a bit more time fussing over the food and cocktails than you might for a run-of-the-mill party. After all, for most of us, serving up body parts isn’t part of our everyday dinner rotation.

There’s no doubt that Halloween celebrations have changed. First of all, Halloween has become big business. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans spent almost $7 billion last year on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations.

And instead of being just a holiday for kids, it’s become an event for all ages. The federation said 1 out of 3 of us threw a Halloween party in the past.

It wasn’t that long ago that a Halloween party meant bowls of cheese puffs and cheese curls, black olives, nacho-flavored corn chips and maybe an orange punch of some sort.

I think it was the folks at Martha Stewart Living who really upped our game. Surely no one has more fun with the holiday than the little Martha Stewart elves who dream up new ways for us to decorate our pumpkins, our homes, ourselves and our menus.

Their first stand-alone Halloween magazine came out in 2000 and they haven’t looked back. You don’t see special issues on celebrating the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. The buzz is all around Halloween.

Now every Food Network star and woman’s magazine has suggestions for creepy cakes and freaky party food. The beverage companies have gotten into the mix, and you can buy black vodka with which to make all kinds of dark and stormy cocktails.

So throw that Halloween party. Invite your guests to enjoy your frightful but delicious finger food. Stock the bar and you’re ready to enjoy this holiday that’s not just for kids anymore.


There are plenty of ideas out there on the Internet for disgusting Halloween food like “kitty litter surprise.” We prefer a classier Halloween spread. And you don’t have to spend days getting ready for your party. In an hour’s time you can make the herbed pumpkin seeds, spiderweb eggs and truffles with candied brains. The devilish eggs and ladies’ fingers will take a little more fiddling, but if you’re in a hurry, shortcut versions can help.

Herbed Pumpkin Seeds

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Makes 2 cups

You can substitute pumpkin seeds left over from carving your jack-o-lantern, but be sure to provide a place for guests to discard the pumpkin seed hulls.

2 cups shelled pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil and salt. Spread seeds on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then toss in a medium bowl with rosemary.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 47 calories (percent of calories from fat, 56), 1 gram protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 135 milligrams sodium.

Spooky Eggs

To make boiled eggs:

In a large saucepan, place eggs in a single layer and add water to cover. Bring water to a boil. Immediately remove from heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Use immediately or allow to cool completely and refrigerate.

And a tip, the fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel, so these are not recipes for those freshly laid eggs you buy at local farmers markets.

Spiderweb Eggs

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Makes 1 dozen

The blueberries stain the eggs, but leave no blueberry flavor behind. Serve with freshly ground pepper and some of those specialty salts you’ve been accumulating. You can make these with freshly boiled eggs, or with boiled eggs that have been refrigerated.

1 (10-ounce) package frozen blueberries

1 dozen boiled eggs, see recipe

Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, combine blueberries and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat.

Place each boiled egg on a folded kitchen towel. Lightly crack on one side only with the handle of a wooden spoon. Place in blueberry water and leave eggs to steep until completely cool. Store in refrigerator. May be made up to 2 days ahead.

When ready to serve, carefully peel and blot dry. Serve with salt and pepper.

Adapted from The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook 2010 magazine.

Per egg: 87 calories (percent of calories from fat, 53), 6 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 212 milligrams cholesterol, 71 milligrams sodium.

Devilish Eggs

Hands on: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Makes: 24

Adjust the “devilish-ness” of these eggs by adding more or less cayenne.

1 dozen boiled eggs, see recipe

3 roasted red peppers, finely chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 small red pepper, cut into small triangles, for garnish

1 scallion, dark green portion cut into small triangles, for garnish

2 chives, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, for garnish

Carefully peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Place whites in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate. Make filling in a medium bowl. Mix yolks with roasted peppers, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Stir together until smooth and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made up to 2 days in advance.

When ready to serve, spoon filling into egg white halves. Use red pepper triangles to make horns, green onion triangle to make a goatee and chive pieces for mustache.

Adapted from www.marthastewart.com.

Per egg: 74 calories (percent of calories from fat, 77), 3 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 108 milligrams cholesterol, 72 milligrams sodium.

Halloween Truffles with Candied Walnut Brains

Hands on: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Makes: 12

No need for expensive white chocolate here, white chocolate chips will work fine. Store the truffles in the refrigerator before your party and then serve at room temperature.

1 cup white chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon liqueur, optional

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Red food coloring

12 whole walnuts

In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm chocolate, butter, cream and salt until chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat and be sure everything is well mixed. If you’re using liqueur, stir it in now. Set aside 1/2 cup.

Transfer remaining chocolate mixture to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, about 1 hour.

While chocolate is firming up, stir food coloring into reserved chocolate mixture until you have your desired color. Arrange walnuts on a wire rack over a piece of parchment paper. Spoon colored chocolate over walnuts to cover. Allow chocolate to set. Put walnuts aside until ready to make truffles.

Use a teaspoon or small cookie scoop to make 1-inch truffles. Roll each truffle in powdered sugar, then top each with a walnut brain. Store truffles in refrigerator for up to one week.

Per serving: 160 calories (percent of calories from fat, 72), 4 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 13 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 9 milligrams cholesterol, 20 milligrams sodium.

Thriller Chiller Cocktails

Eyeball Highball

Hands on: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes 4 cocktails

This cocktail is all about the garnish. The frozen eyeballs will only last a little while but they’ll be quite disconcerting while they last.

1 dozen radishes, trimmed

6 pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in half

16 ounces gin or vodka

1 ounce vermouth

Using a paring knife, scoop out a small circle opening in the larger side of the radish and insert an olive half, cut side facing out. Place radish in ice cube tray. Repeat with remaining radishes and olives. Fill tray with water and freeze.

In a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and add gin or vodka and vermouth. Add 3 frozen eyeballs to each of 4 highball glasses. Strain martini and divide evenly between glasses.

Adapted from The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook 2010 magazine.

Per cocktail: 325 calories (percent of calories from fat, 51), trace protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 85 milligrams sodium.

Screwed-up Screwdriver

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Makes 1 cocktail

1/4 cup ice

1 cup orange or tangerine juice

1 1/2 ounces black vodka

In a tall glass add ice and juice. Carefully pour vodka over the back of a teaspoon so that it floats on top of the juice. Serve immediately.

Per cocktail: 210 calories (percent of calories from fat, 4), 2 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 3 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook 2010 magazine.

Delicious Digits

Ladies’ Fingers

Hands on: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Makes: 48 fingers

These fingers taste just like pretzels, and they’re best eaten on the day they’re made. For a shortcut, bake these from canned breadstick dough. Wouldn’t a nice bowl of bloody marinara make a creepy accompaniment? To really creep out your guests, dye the marinara black using a combination of green and blue food coloring.

2 cups warm water

1 (2 1/4 -ounce) package dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 egg

Kosher salt

48 whole almonds

In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine water, yeast and sugar and allow to sit five minutes or until mixture begins to bubble.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 5 cups flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture and run mixer to combine. Beat until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add more flour in half cup increments until dough is smooth.

Remove bowl from mixer and pour in oil. Turn dough to cover all sides with oil, cover bowl and let sit in a warm place 1 hour or until dough is doubled.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 quarts water and baking soda until it comes to a boil.

Remove dough from bowl and place on work surface. Divide into quarters, and then divide each quarter into 12 pieces. Using well-oiled hands, roll each piece between your slightly opened fingers to form long finger shapes 4 to 5 inches long with ridges for knuckles. When you have formed 12 fingers, move them to the boiling water and poach for 1 minute. Remove from water and arrange on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

When all fingers have been formed, in a small cup, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg wash onto fingers and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Press almonds into one end of each finger to form fingernails. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool fingers on wire rack.

Per finger: 87 calories (percent of calories from fat, 35), 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams fat (trace saturated fat), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 295 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook 2010 magazine.

Quicker Ladies’ Fingers

Hands on: 5 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Makes: 12

1 tablespoon non-fat cream cheese

6 black olives, cut in half

12 (1-ounce) pieces low-fat string cheese

Use a dab of cream cheese to attach one olive half to the end of each piece of string cheese. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Per finger: 81 calories (percent of calories from fat, 56), 8 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 5 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 181 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade magazine September-October 2010.