Grown-ups love Halloween, too. According to the National Retail Federation, about half of all adults dress up for the holiday. Of course, grown-up parties go beyond bite-size candies and witch hats. Think ghoulish cocktails and spooky snacks. Keep the fuss to a minimum by serving finger foods. The recipes below can be made a day ahead, so you’ve got time to work on your costume.
Purple “Witches’ Brew” Martini
Playful garnishes make this cocktail a great Halloween sipper. To create the rim, dip the edges of a martini or cocktail glass in light corn syrup, letting the excess drip off while holding the glass upside down. Roll the coated edge in purple-colored sugar. Although orange and black rule the day, purple shines with the magical powers of wizards and witches. The bold color blends with the cranberry juice to create a creepy hue.
If you want to make the cocktail ahead of time and in a large batch, multiply ingredients by four or eight and pour into a pitcher. Cover and chill. Add sparkling water right before serving.
2 ounces (¼ cup) cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
2 ounces (¼ cup) citrus or plain vodka, chilled
1½ teaspoons blue curaçao liqueur
1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) orange or plain sparkling water
Festive garnishes: Orange zest and black licorice strips
Combine the cranberry juice, vodka and blue curaçao in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with sparkling water. Garnish, if desired. Makes one cocktail.
Spooky Sesame Cheese Coins
These crunchy snacks are addictive! The coating of black sesame seeds around the rich orange dough adds that Halloween touch. Try them instead of croutons on salads or soups. Cooking time may vary by two to three minutes depending on the diameter of the coins.
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, softened
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
4 to 5 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
Beat the cheese and butter together on medium speed with an electric mixer until well-blended. Beat in the flour, salt, cayenne and paprika until the dough comes together.
Divide the dough in half. Place one-half of the dough on top of a large piece of clear plastic wrap or parchment paper. Roll the dough into a log, about one to one-and-a-half inches in diameter. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds over all sides of the log, rolling to coat. Cover the log with plastic wrap, and repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the logs for several hours until firm.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Unroll the logs and slice them into one-eighth to one-quarter-inch-thick coins. Place them about one inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, nonstick foil or silicone baking mats. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set. Do not allow them to bake darker than light golden brown. Let cool on baking sheets. Makes three-and-a-half dozen cheese coins.
Curried Pumpkin-Turmeric Shooters
This spicy soup has seasonal flair and provides a healthy punch of vitamins and antioxidants.
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
2 Tablespoons red curry paste
1½ Tablespoons ground turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
⅓ cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about one minute.
Stir in the broth, pumpkin, coconut milk, red curry paste, turmeric, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer about 20 minutes. For an extra-smooth texture, strain through a fine-wire-mesh sieve. Serve with a small dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.
For parties, serve the soup in shot glasses or small disposable cups. To pour cleanly into shot glasses, transfer the soup in small batches to a liquid measuring cup with a spout, and pour the soup into the center of the shot glasses. You also can serve the soup chilled. Leftovers can be frozen for up to three months. Makes six cups or up to 32 shot glass–size shooters.
Cinnamon-Sugar Voodoo Cookies
A touch of cinnamon adds fall flavor to a simple sugar-cookie dough. But it’s the icing that turns this basic gingerbread-man shape into a deliciously devilish voodoo doll. These treats will be the talk of the town.
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and light, then beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, then increase the speed back to medium-high and beat until well-blended.
Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Pat each half into a flat, six-to-eight-inch-diameter disk that’s about one-half-inch thick, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about two to three hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it stand 10 minutes. Uncover the dough, and roll each portion to a quarter-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with desired three-to-four-inch cookie cutters to create your voodoo doll. If you have any leftover dough that’s too small for the voodoo creature, feel free to get creative. I made some small bats to add to the fun. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, nonstick foil or a silicone mat.
Bake 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Cool on the pan one minute, then remove and cool the cookies completely on wire racks. Decorate with colored frosting (see below) to create voodoo magic.
Frightful Frosting: Combine one-third cup soft butter, two cups sifted powdered sugar and two tablespoons milk in a large bowl. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium-high and beat until well-blended. Add more milk, one teaspoon at a time, if necessary, to create a smooth, spreadable frosting. Makes one-and-a-quarter cups frosting.
Divide frosting into portions, depending on how many colors you want to use on your voodoo creatures. Add a few drops of food coloring, stirring to blend.
Disposable piping bags make it easy to create the “stitching” effect. Spoon one color into each bag. Start by snipping a very small hole in the bottom of a piping bag. Pipe a “test” on a plate or bowl. If the hole is too small, the piping will come out in squiggles and not make straight lines. Snip a bit more of the piping bag to create a larger hole in the tip.
Pipe lines on top of each cookie. Go over the lines with small perpendicular lines to resemble “stitches.” Pipe “Xs” for eyes, hands and feet. Makes about three dozen cookies.