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Table talk: Halloween treats

Kenny Kemp
Each of these smiling crispy rice jack-o'-lanterns started out as two halves pressed into mini cake molds. Two halves made a whole pumpkin. A Tootsie Roll stem and gel icing features converted them to jack-o'-lanterns.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spooked by a last-minute request for hauntingly good treats for a Halloween party?

Those pumpkin cakes made by baking two bundt cakes and upending one on top of the other to form spherical shape of a pumpkin look great, but they require a certain amount of lead time for making, cooling, assembling and icing. Upend that cake too soon, and you'll end up with something that more closely resembles a smashed pumpkin.

For quick miniature pumpkins, try crispy rice cereal pumpkins. No baking required. If you have miniature bundt cake pans, press the warm orange-tinted marshmallowy treat into the pans to shape them, then place one on top of the other to form a perfectly ribbed pumpkin.

For slightly misshapen pumpkins, shape the warm marshmallow/cereal mixture with buttered hands into spheres. You'll create the look of real pumpkins, which frequently grow in odd shapes.

Another quick idea is creepy fingers, or pretzel rods dipped in melted chocolate and finished with a slivered almond placed in the location of fingernail. For more realistic and tastier fingers, wrap two narrow strips of the caramel sheets used to make shortcut caramel apples where the knuckles would be before dipping the pretzels in chocolate.

The ingredient lists for Pizza Mummies, Witches' Brooms, Vampire Bites, Nutter Butter Ghost Cookies, Witches' Hat cookies, Mummy Dogs and Candy Corn Crackers each contain five items or less, with the exception of the Orange Swirled Brownies recipe, courtesy of Betty Crocker.

They aren't fancy or particularly healthy, but they offer protection from demons and goblins who announce they need a immediate treat to go.

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.

 Pizza Mummies

1 loaf French or Italian bread

Thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

Pizza sauce

Sliced black olives

Pizza toppings, if desired

HEAT oven broiler.

CUT the sliced cheese into tapered strips.

SLICE off the rounded ends of the bread. Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 2-inch wide pieces. Place the bread, cut side up, on the cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil. Toast the bread slices slightly, for 1-2 minutes. Watch closely to prevent burning.

SPREAD pizza sauce on top of the toasted bread to cover.

PLACE toppings, if desired, on sauce. Arrange the cheese slices, overlapping slightly, on top of the sauce to look like bandages. Add two olives for the eyes. Place another slice of cheese over the olives to cover slightly.

BROILpizzas until the cheese is slightly melted, 1-2 minutes longer.

Vampire Bites

Square waffle pretzels or mini twists

Hershey's Kisses or Hugs

Candy corn or autumn mix

HEAT oven to 350 degrees.

LINE a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place pretzels on cookie sheet making sure none are touching. Put a Hershey Kiss on the top of each pretzel.

BAKE 2-3 minutes, until Hershey Kisses start to get shiny. Remove from oven and gently place a candy corn on top of the Hershey Kisses.

COOL completely on counter before packaging or stacking.

Crispy Rice Pumpkins

3        tablespoons melted margarine

6        cups crispy rice cereal

10      ounces miniature marshmallows

equal parts red and yellow food coloring to make orange

1        tube green gel icing

1        tube black gel icing

Tootsie rolls or Rolo candies

MELT margarine in large microwave-safe bowl. Add marshmallows, and heat again in microwave until soft and fluffy. Drop equal amounts red and yellow food coloring to achieve desired color.

STIR in cereal and mix well.

LIGHTLY grease hands and place in pumpkin-mini cake pans (available at Michael's) or shape into small handful-sized balls. If using pans, remove one pumpkin half and place on top of another, until all the pumpkins are topped. If using hands, place on pan lined with parchment paper.

MAKE a small indentation on top. Press Tootsie Roll or Rolo candy in indentation to make a stem.

CREATE vines with green icing and jack-o-lantern face with black gel icing.

Witches' Brooms

Mozzarella string cheese sticks

Tiny pretzel rods

Chives or green onion

CUT the cheese sticks in half on the width. Using a small knife, cut the bottom part of each half into strips. Insert a pretzel rod into the uncut end of the cheese stick. Wrap cheese with chive or thin strip of green onion and knot.

Mummy Dogs

1           package hot dogs

1           container refrigerated crescent rolls

Mustard

UNROLL crescent rolls and cut into narrow strips.

WRAP the hot dogs in the strips, leaving a section open with the hot dog showing.

BAKE according to package directions.

REMOVE from oven and carefully place two mustard dots side-by-side.

Nutter Butter Ghost Cookies

Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Cookies

White chocolate melts or almond bark

Mini chocolate chips

DIP cookies in melted white chocolate, or pour the chocolate over the cookies to coat.

ADD mini chocolate chip eyes.

THOROUGHLY dry before moving the cookies.

Witches' Hats

32            chocolate kiss candies, unwrapped

1              package fudge-striped shortbread cookies

1              tube (4.25 ounces) orange or red decorating icing

PLACE several drops of icing in the center of the chocolate underside of the cookie.

PLACE 1 chocolate candy on the icing drops.

PIPE decorating icing around base of milk chocolate candy and in the shape of a bow.

Candy Corn Crackers

Block of cheddar cheese

Block of Colby-Jack cheese

Block of provolone or mozzarella cheese

Triangle-shaped crackers, such as Triscuit Thin Crisps

Purchased dairy sour cream dip

CUT blocks of cheeses into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices into triangles the size of the crackers. Cut each triangle of cheese into thirds. Spread dip on the top of the crackers. Arrange the cut cheese pieces on the crackers to resemble candy corn.

Orange Swirled Brownies

2                 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1                 egg

1/4              cup sugar

4                 drops red food color

4                 drops yellow food color

1/2              teaspoon vanilla

1                 box Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge Premium brownie mix

Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box

HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan. In small bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Set aside.

STIR brownie ingredients in large bowl, until well blended. Spread 3/4 of brownie batter in pan. Spoon filling by tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter. Spoon remaining brownie batter over filling. For marbled design, pull knife through batter and filling in wide curves; turn pan and repeat.

BAKE 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean. Cool completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until chilled.


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