Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky Sweets and Scary Treats

I must begin this by saying that I dislike Halloween.  It is one of my least favorite occasions for celebration.  The pressure of finding a costume and dressing up is a little too intense for my indecisive nature.  I have booked last minute plane tickets to avoid having to create a costume and attend parties.  However, I am obsessed with themed foods that accompany any holiday.  So, while costume shopping and spooky decorations are not my favorite, I will jump at any opportunity to create themed party treats.

These halloween treats are the perfect addition to any ghoulish gathering.  Halloween kicks off holiday season so these snacks were designed to make sure we don't start it off on the wrong foot.  Preparing "bite size" versions of halloween classics provides all the fun with none of the guilt.  And creating healthier snacks ensures that these treats won't scare you out of your skinny jeans and into sweatpants.  

Enjoy....and Happy Halloween!

Spooky S'more Popcorn Balls
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package of mini marshmallows
Red and Yellow (or orange) food coloring
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of milk chocolate morsels
Wax paper

Pop popcorn (preferably using an air popper or bag of butter free popcorn).  In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium.  Add marshmallows and stir constantly until completely melted.  Add salt and food coloring and stir in until well mixed and uniformly colored.  Add popcorn slowly, folding into marshmallow mixture.  Once all the popcorn has been added and mixed in, add the chocolate chips and mix in as well.  Do not allow to remain on the heat for very long after adding the chocolate or the chips will melt completely.  Dump mixture onto wax paper.  Allow to cool for a few minutes but do not allow it to harden.  Using your hands, form the popcorn into balls about the size of a fist.  Allow to cool completely at room temperature.  If not serving immediately, store in an air tight container. 

Ghoulish Gooey Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from An Artful Cupcake By: Marcianne Miller "Chocolate with Cabernet Cupcakes"

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup red wine
Sour cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift all the dry ingredients and then add the oil, vanilla, eggs and wine. Beat mixture using an electric mixer for about 3 minutes.  Line mini muffin pans with liners.  Spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into the pan.  Add one sour cherry per cupcake.  Top with 1 more teaspoon of batter.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick.  The cupcakes are done when the toothpick comes out clean.

For extra halloween fun, I decorated these cupcakes with purple and green butter cream icing and painted scary faces and fun halloween phrases onto the cupcakes.

Mini Candy Apples

15 Lady apples
15 lollipop sticks
1 cup Dulce de leche
1 cup milk chocolate, melted
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Wash and dry the apples.  Create a space to insert the lollipop stick by inserting a knife into (or right next to) the core.  Insert the lollipop stick.  Heat the dulce de leche in the microwave for 30 seconds and melt the milk chocolate according to the instructions on the package.  Spread 1/2 tablespoon of dulce de leche onto each apple.  Then spread 1/2 tablespoon of melted milk chocolate.  Spreading minimizes the amount of dulce de leche and chocolate that would have been added if the apples were dipped.  Sprinkle peanuts and place onto wax paper.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. 

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