Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Scare up some spooky treats

Mummified cookies, caramel apples, mummified pizza and eyes and ears pasta

Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, or the Night of the Dead, originated from a Celtic celebration of the end of summer, called Samhain.

It was believed that the worlds of the living and dead overlapped at this time and that the deceased could come back and cause problems. To keep away  bad spirits, the poor would go door to door begging food in exchange for prayers to the dead. The idea of trick or treating has come from these ancient Gauls and their traditions, primarily by Irish and British immigrants during the 19th century. There are only a few recorded incidences of trick or treating prior to the middle 1930s in Canada and it didn’t really become firmly established until after the Second World War.

Today, Canadians celebrate this fun night with bonfires, trick or treating, costume parties, haunted houses and an array of decorated and ghoulish looking foods of which I have a few to offer you today.

Mummified Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

2 cups  white chocolate chips

1 tbsp vegetable shortening*

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir flour with cocoa, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in 1 cup  mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll 1 tbsp dough into a 3 1/2-inch  long, carrot shape for the mummy body; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Roll 1 tsp.  dough into a ball the size of a grape; press onto the wide end of the body. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from baking sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Microwave white chips and shortening in microwave-safe shallow bowl on medium for 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave on medium for additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted.

Place 1 cookie at a time on a narrow metal spatula or a table knife. Spoon white chocolate mixture over just the top of cookie to coat; place on wax paper. As coating begins to set on cookies, use a toothpick to score lines in body and on face to resemble a mummy. Place two mini chocolate chips on each cookie for the eyes. Repeat with remaining ingredients. (Melt additional white chocolate chips with additional shortening, if extra coating needed.) Store, covered, in cool dry place. Makes about 30 cookies.

*do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil

Tip: If white chocolate mixture begins to thicken while decorating, return to microwave for a few seconds.

Mummy-Face Pizzas

1 plain bagel (3-1/2 inch), cut in half

2 tbsp. pizza sauce

2 Kraft Singles Mozzarella Cheese Slice

4 slices black olives

Heat oven to 400 F. Spread bagel halves with sauce. Cut cheese into thin strips; place in random criss-cross fashion on tops of bagels to resemble mummy bandages. Trim ends with kitchen shears. Add olives for the eyes.

Place on baking sheet. Bake 5 min. or until bagels are crisp and cheese is melted.

Caramel Apples

1/4 cup gummy worms

1/4 cup Halloween sprinkles

1 (1.4 oz.) chocolate/toffee bar, crushed

1 (1.5 oz.) bag Reese’s pieces

1/4 cup candy corn

1/4 cup small cinnamon candies

8 small apples

1 (14 oz.) bag soft caramel candies, each unwrapped

1/4 cup heavy cream

8 craft sticks

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place candy (except caramels) in separate small bowls. Insert craft stick into stem end of each apple. Place caramels and cream in a heavy saucepan and heat on medium-low, stirring, until caramels have melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

Hold an apple by its stick over pot and spoon caramel over apple to coat, allowing excess to drip back into pot (if caramel gets too stiff, reheat for a minute or 2 to loosen). Press candy into caramel on apple and place apple, stick side up, on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining apples and candy. Let apples stand until caramel has cooled, about 10 minutes.

Eyes & Ears (pasta dish)

Ears

1 1/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup water

3 drops red food coloring

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. Depending on the humidity, you may need to add a little more flour. Dump the dough out onto a floured counter and knead well. If the dough is still too sticky, add more flour. Knead the dough about 5 minutes. Let the dough sit while preparing the eyeballs.

Then roll out the dough on a floured counter with a rolling pin. The dough should end up about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out round pieces of dough using a glass about 3 inches in diameter. Cut small hole in middle of the 3 inch piece of dough to form ear canal. Roll up edge of round piece of dough and form into an ear shape. It helps to have a picture of an ear since you cannot look at your own. Put finished ears on dishtowel and let dry overnight if possible. If you do not have time, an hour or two will suffice. Cook ears in boiling water and 1 tablespoon olive for about 2 minutes or until they float to top of water. Drain ears in a colander.

Eyes

1-1/2 pounds of ground chicken

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic

Pitted medium green olives

Pitted medium black olives

Dump ground chicken in a mixing bowl, add the spices, and mix well. Make little balls of chicken about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and place on cookie sheet. To make the iris of the eye, take a green olive and cut in half and remove pimento if you bought that type. To make pupil, cut black olive into small pieces. Now insert black olive piece into half of green olive. Stick green olive onto the ground chicken eyeball. When you cook the eyeballs, you do not want them to brown, so steam them. Steam the eyeballs just like you would steam vegetables. It should take about 20 minutes over medium heat.

To make the blood: Simply take a small jar of spaghetti sauce and mix in some red food colouring.

To assemble: In crock-pot or dish, pour the “blood” into bottom. Arrange cooked “eyes” and “ears” and you’re done. It can be easily microwaved or heated in a crock pot.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist whose column appears weekly.