Happy Halloween!

We have great friends who have hosted a fabulous Halloween party for number of years. I am so happy that we have been able to attend the past few years. This year was no exception:


I was happy this year that my offer to contribute was accepted; I am happiest when I can share good food (although they had plenty). I brought 3 new items that can all be made in advance.

Monster Eyeballs

 

Monster Eyeballs

makes about 80 eyeballs ∙ source Epicurious.com | October 2009
INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 (3-ounce) package miniature M&Ms

DIRECTIONS

1. Blend the peanut butter with the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. (I recommend a pastry blender or your hands.)

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture by teaspoons into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the eyeballs.


3. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it’s not quite smooth, heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)

4. Take the sheet of balls from the refrigerator; use a fork or a toothpick to dip each one most of the way into the chocolate, leaving a round or oval opening of undipped peanut butter on top. (This opening in the chocolate will be the cornea.) Hold each ball over the chocolate to catch the drips, and then return to the wax paper, cornea side up.


 5. Place an M&M in the center of the peanut butter cornea to make an iris. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store the eyeballs in the refrigerator or freezer and serve chilled.

 

Scary Barbecue Snack Mix


Scary Barbecue Snack Mix

(Way better than Chex Mix and good for all of fall (football season), not just Halloween.)

makes 8 servings ∙ source Gourmet | October 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups popcorn (1½ ounces; see Cooks’ notes)
  • 2 cups coarsely broken blue corn tortilla chips (2¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups Cheddar fish-shaped crackers or other cheese crackers (3¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups corn nuts (6½ ounces) or smokehouse almonds (or 1 cup of both)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sometimes labeled pimentón dulce)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco (optional)
  • Special equipment: Large (18- by 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Grease rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  • Combine popcorn, tortilla chips, cheese crackers, and corn nuts in a large bowl.

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and whisk in barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, chili and garlic powders, and Tabasco, if using.
  • Drizzle barbecue sauce mixture over snack mix and stir until combined well.

  • Evenly spread mixture in baking sheet and bake, stirring and turning mixture over every 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack (it will crisp as it cools), then break into pieces.



NOTES

Cooks’ notes: Snack mix keeps in an airtight container for up to 1 week. If you want to pop your own popcorn, we recommend using a hot-air popper. To end up with at least 6 cups, use 1/4 cup kernels.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle  (so sad, I forgot to take a picture)

makes 16 ∙ source Bon Appétit | November 2013
INGREDIENTS

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • A candy thermometer

DIRECTIONS

Spray a parchment-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 3 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Fit saucepan with thermometer and cook until thermometer registers 290°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin seeds, butter, and kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until pale brown and thermometer registers 305°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in baking soda and cinnamon (mixture will bubble vigorously), then immediately pour caramel onto prepared sheet. Using a heatproof spatula, quickly spread out and sprinkle with sea salt; let cool. Break brittle into pieces.

Do Ahead: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight, layered between sheets of parchment paper, at room temperature.

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