Food & Drink

Halloween treats get the salty, sweet and healthy treatment

Halloween Treats: RIP Dirt Cups, Pretzel Spooky Fingers, Bat Wings Cheese Balls, Apple Teeth Snacks.
Halloween Treats: RIP Dirt Cups, Pretzel Spooky Fingers, Bat Wings Cheese Balls, Apple Teeth Snacks. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Who knew that Halloween food could not only be scary but also fun and hauntingly flavorful?

Ranging from salty to sweet and healthy, and from appetizers to snacks and desserts, it is frighteningly easy to whip up. Like the Halloween costumes every year, the food can be just as varied and is meant to leave a lasting impression. So don’t be afraid to experiment and treat your guests to a memorable time.

In my quest for the scariest, yet tastiest Halloween recipes, I also found a couple of snacks that will make you look twice before reaching for a bite. For Antipasto Eyeballs, just cut small holes in mozzarella balls and insert pimiento-stuffed olives. Wrap them in prosciutto and serve on crackers or crostini. (From Food Network Magazine, October 2016.)

Bacon-Wrapped Date Bugs look like nasty insects. Simply cut bacon slices into 4 pieces. Wrap each piece around a pitted date and secure with a toothpick. Bake at 400 degrees, turning once, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly and then remove the toothpicks. Tuck thinly sliced dates under the bacon for antennae. (From Food Network Magazine, October 2016.)

And Monster Avocado Toasts scream healthy. Mash 1 avocado with lemon juice and salt. Spread on toasted rye cocktail bread. Decorate each with sprouts for hair, radish slices and black olives for eyes, a caper for a nose, a cucumber slice for a mouth and jarred roasted red pepper for a tongue. (From Food Network Magazine, October 2016.)

Bat wings cheese balls

Makes about 18 cheese balls.

This is how a cheese dip should be enjoyed – in bat-form. These cheese balls are a cinch to make, spooky and cheesy with a slightly crunchy exterior. Use a spicy salsa for a pleasant bite.

– Adapted from Food Network Magazine (October 2016)

4 generous handfuls of black-bean or blue-corn chips, crushed, plus whole ones for the wings

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup chunky salsa

1/4 teaspoon chili powder


Freshly ground black pepper

Sour cream

1 pimiento pepper, diced

Add handfuls of chips to a blender or food processor and pulse until powdered. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar, salsa and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Roll into 1-inch balls, then roll in the crushed chips. Insert whole chips for wings. Decorate with sour cream and pepper for eyes.

Rip dirt cups

Makes 4 servings.

The chocolaty crumbles on top add a lovely texture and contrast to the creamy chocolate mousse. Dressed up with cookie tombstones and gummy worms, this dessert is scary yet easy to throw together.

– Adapted from “Sheila G’s Butter & Chocolate: 101 Creative Sweets and Treats Using Brownie Batter” by Sheila G. Mains, (Kyle Books; October, 2016; $19.95)

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups Brownie Brittle (2 5-ounce bags) or chocolate wafers, crushed

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Black decorating icing

Sandwich cookies, such as Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies

Gummi worms, candy corn and pumpkins for garnish

Melt chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl on high for 30 seconds; remove and stir. Return to microwave and heat in 15-second intervals until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Mix crushed Brownie Brittle with the melted butter and set aside.

Use an electric mixer on high speed to beat cream until soft peaks form. Add a small amount of cooled melted chocolate to whipped cream and, using a spatula, gently fold it in. Fold in rest of the melted chocolate gradually.

Using decorating icing, write RIP on 4 cookies. Set aside.

Place a large scoop of chocolate-whipped cream mixture into the bottom of 4 (6-ounce) glasses and cover with a layer of Brownie Brittle crumbles, dividing them evenly. Garnish with RIP cookies to look like a tombstone, Gummi worms, candy corns and pumpkins.

Pretzel spooky fingers

Makes 20 servings.

These spooky fingers truly showcase the wonderful balance between sweet, salty and crunchy, making them a delightful snack.

6 ounces white chocolate

6 ounces dark chocolate

20 pretzel rods

10 pumpkin seeds

10 almonds

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Melt white chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on high for 30 seconds; remove and stir. Return to microwave and heat in 15-second intervals until smooth. Repeat process with the dark chocolate.

Holding it over melted chocolate, coat 1 pretzel at a time with chocolate (10 pretzels with white and 10 pretzels with dark chocolate), leaving about 1 or 2 inches uncoated at one end.

Place pretzel on sheet pan and immediately press 1 pumpkin seed or almond onto coated tip to resemble a fingernail. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set chocolate.

Apple teeth snacks

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

These teeth snacks are slathered with smooth peanut butter, adorned with sugary and soft marshmallows and served with a slice of tart, crisp apple.

2 red delicious apples

Peanut butter

Mini white and colored marshmallows

Slice the apples.

Take 1 slice and spread about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter on one side.

Arrange marshmallows in a row across the apple slice to resemble teeth.

Take another slice of apple, spread it with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter on only one side and press it firmly over the marshmallows.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients.