NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

recipe

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

****Party photos added at the bottom of the story****

Those that know me know that I adore the macabre and ghoulish. I'll sign up for anything vaguely creepy and Halloween, although barely registering a blip here in Australia, is a holiday I gladly celebrate. I think that for the months of October-December I'd like to be American because of the 3 holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. OK we celebrate Christmas but we miss out of the other two.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

In October I received my Dexter Season 2 DVD and in the set came a tshirt and an evidence pack complete with Crime Scene tape, you know the stuff that they use on US TV to cordon off a crime scene. No matter that the police tape here is reportedly blue and white. I was evilly fondling my precious length of Crime Scene tape, wondering who to play a trick on when I realised that Halloween was coming up and it was a most fitting decoration. I set to work on my invitations, based on the Friday the 13th Cupcakes I made earlier this year and emailed them out to my nearest and dearest.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Eyeball and Tarantula Spider cupcakes (recipe for Eyeball cupcakes here, Tarantula cupcake recipe see below)

For the three weeks leading up to Halloween, I scoured websites looking for Halloween themed decorations. The food was easy, I had a list of things I had been dying to make. Apart from the Crime Scene tape which would greet everyone at the front door, I knew to make it a truly fantastic Halloween party I had to do more than that. I purchased bags of decorations from dripping blood patterned tablecloths, skulls, spider webs to drape everywhere, hinged hanging skeletons, mini cauldrons (in which I will serve the slime soup) and ghoul and bleeding hand wall clings. I even had skeletons popping up from behind doorways and monsters grabbing people. I also made pictures with eyes that follow you when you walk past, something surprisingly easy to do with instructions here.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Coffin, ghost and bat cookies

So with 3 of the senses: taste, look and feel sorted, all I needed now was the spooky music to listen to which I purchased a great selection on a CD. I stopped short at making it smell like Halloween (I did consider buying lots of smelly cheese to recreate the smell but decided against it in case people missed the point and thought that our place smelled like that anyway).

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

There's a reason I love Nigella and that's because she has things such as Blood Clots and Pus and Slime Soup in her cookbooks. Before you turn up your nose, of course it's not really Blood Clots, Pus and Slime but it certainly looks as though it is which is all that counts really. Also  Donna Hay had some fantastic ideas for Halloween and I loved the Goblin faced pies, Ghost Meringues and Pumpkin Cheese dip which I accompanied with broomstick breadsticks.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Slime soup in cauldrons

A cocktail had to feature something gruesome of course and the one that my husband first thought up was the Bloody Mary (most appropriate). I served it in a test tube a la The Lock Up (the perfect place for Halloween). I would've loved to have served these standing up in an antique test tube rack but I missed out on one on ebay by minutes as I'd asked my husband to remind me (note to self: don't rely on husbands!). We didn't have a lot of plain Vodka but we did have some rather fantastic Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, a gift from my friend Em, so we used that and called it a _Sour _Bloody Mary.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Goblin pies (recipe here)

What was vital to me was being able to do things ahead of time as Halloween falls on a Friday so I needed to be able to do plenty ahead of time and the evenings before and assembling everything before the witching hour of 8pm.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

My costume was a Corpse Bride (a very popular one this year-apparently one of Barack Obama's daughters is going as Corpse bride too!) and I bought a wedding dress on ebay intending to cut it up to resemble the Corpse Bride's dress not realising that what I actually won was a brand new gorgeous and sumptuous wedding dress that I could not bear to cut into so I left it be, making myself scary with the makeup instead (I bet Chanel never realised that their Jeans de Chanel palette would come in so handy on Halloween).

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

I knew I had to do special cupcakes and I received a cupcake display stand from Queen Viv so of course I draped the cupcakes in spider's web. Without further ado, welcome to NQN's Ghastly and Gruesome Halloween party!

Slime Soup

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Slime Soup (pea and mozarella/boccancini soup)

Despite the name and appearance, this is merely a pea soup which I thought would be perfect served in these little black cauldron cups. I can picture a witch stirring a cauldron full of this. A pity that I couldn't have some dry ice giving off an eerie air on top!

  • 500g frozen peas

  • 1 scallion

  • chicken or vegetable stock concentrate to taste or a stock cube

  • 3 cups/750ml boiling water from the kettle

  • 1 ball mozzarella (100g) chopped roughly (I used baby bocconcini)

Step 1 - Boil the frozen peas and scallion in the water with the stock concentrate or stock cube until tender and cooked through. Remove and discard the scallion once the peas are soft enough to be blitzed into soup.

Step 2 - Put the chopped mozarella into the blender with the peas and their liquid (do this in about three batches), pouring the vilely green and – it's true – slightly slimy soup back into the pan and heating gently to meld cheese and peas better together. Or just set aside and reheat later.

Makes about 1 litre (or 12 mini cauldrons ;) )

Adapted from _Feast _by Nigella Lawson

Pumpkin cheese dip with witches' broomsticks

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Cheesy Pumpkin dip with Broomstick Crackers (left), Sour Bloody Mary cocktails in test tubes (right)

  • 2x900g Jap pumpkins

  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

  • 200g feta cheese crumbled

  • 250g sour cream

  • 250g cream cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or spring onions

  • pepper (salt isn't necessary for the dip and the feta is salty)

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry and a little milk to glaze

  • 1 egg beaten

Step 1 - Set oven to 180c. Cut the top off the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking tray. Mix the cheeses, sour cream, chives and pepper well in a bowl and spoon this into the pumpkins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Broomsticks ready for the oven

Step 2 - Increase heat oven to 210c. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up. Make the broomsticks first by cutting out a broomstick shape using a sharp knife out of the puff pastry. Use the knife gently to draw the broom bristles. Place on a sheet of baking paper and brush with egg wash. When the oven is ready, lift the sheet of greaseproof paper (you might ask for help to help you lift it onto the hot baking tray) and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and crisp.

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine

This pumpkin dip is also my entry to Julia's from A Alice of Cherry Pie's October "In the Bag" event! :)

Blood Clots and Pus

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Blood clots and pus

Ingredients for Blood Clots

  • 1 packet of strawberry jelly

  • 1 packet of raspberry jelly

  • 1 packet of blackcurrant jelly

Method

Step 1 - Make up the jellies according to the packet instructions, and leave to set in separate dishes approximately 26 x 20 cm, in the fridge.

Step 2 - When the jellies have set, turn or mulch with your fingers and put them, squodged together on to plates or bowls in clumps like blood clots.

Ingredients for Pus

  • 1 packet Lime jelly

  • Milk

Step 1 - Dissolve lime jelly powder in hot water according to directions but use milk in place of water to make up the jelly and leave to set in the fridge

Step 2 - Once set, mulch the jelly up with your fingers.

Assembling your blood clots and pus

Step 1 - I put these in little individual cups. I spooned some mulched up blood clots into a cup and then splodged dots of pus throughout the top to give, as Nigella suggests, a burst boil appearance. Stunning!

Adapted from _Feast _by Nigella Lawson

Tarantula Spider Cupcakes

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

One of  the easiest things to do when baking is using these Cupcake wrappers, now stocked at Alfreso Emporium on the North shore (they also do online and phone orders). Slipping them into these laser cut wrappers pretty much takes care of the presentation. When I saw they had a Spider's Web wrapper I knew it called for a visit!

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

  • Cupcakes already baked (I used the ones I had made for the Eyeball cupcake although to keep it black you may want to do a mocha mud cupcake recipe here)

  • Jaffas

  • Black tube icing with a star tip nozzle

  • Licorice twists or straps cut into small, thin legs, 8 for each spider

  • Spider web cupcake wrappers (see here)

Step 1 - Pipe black stars all over the top (to simulate Tarantula fur)

Step 2 - Place licorice legs on each side of the spider radiating out from the centre.

Step 3 - Add two jaffa eyes

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Step 4 - Assemble Spider's web cupcake wrappers and slip cupcake into wrapper et viola!

Ghost Meringues

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Ghost Meringues

  • 150ml eggwhites

  • 1 cup caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • silver cachous for eyes

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 120c. With a perfectly clean mixer and beater, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar and vinegar until it becomes thick and glossy.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Placing "eyes" on ghosts

Step 2 - Place mixture in a plain 1.5cm nozzle fitted piping bag and pipe ghosts using a swirl action onto a baking tray lined with non stick paper. With tweezers place 2 cachous in place of eyes and bake for 25 minutes. When done, turn off the oven and leave to cool with the door ajar.

Makes about 30 ghosts

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine

Coffin and Ghost Cookies

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Coffin and Ghost cookies

I came across a bounty of cookie cutters at a bargain price on ebay US (naturally, as America is the land of the cookie) so I bought 30 of them and am so glad that I did. I even got darling vintage cutters and really intricate ones, not that I will use them right away but it feels comforting having chest full of cutters. Like a child's toy chest if you will.

I found that the below recipes were incredibly sticky, like a buttercream frosting consistency which I didn't like the look of at all so I added in a lot more flour to give it a proper cookie dough consistency. I just kept adding in more tablespoons until I reached the right amount. I think the amount of butter to flour in the Coffin cookies recipe is too similar, you most certainly need more flour than butter in my experience. However there were plenty of people that have had success with these so I was a bit stumped.

Thinking back and referring to my other cut out biscuit recipes I think that perhaps the butter was too soft (it's hot here and butter gets soft very easily), it needs to be colder than that to hold together and the number of eggs made it a bit too wet. So I give you the recipes with some trepidation and hope you have better luck with these than I did. They did taste good in the end, particularly the Ghost cookies which were fantastic sugar cookies but there was panic while I was adding in the flour. Perhaps I should have put it in the fridge whilst in the buttercream textured stage, I don't know...

As for icing these, I used a packet of Royal Icing mixture. It's more expensive than making your own Royal Icing but I like the fact that it dries very quickly and when you have so many cookies to ice, it's definitely a good thing. Of course the drying time depends on the weather, if it's humid, it will take longer to dry. I made an almost equal batch of black and white to use on both the Coffin cookies and the Ghost cookies. I also couldn't resist and made some Bats too!

Coffin Cookies

  • 190 g all-purpose flour (plus more!)

  • 65 g unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 4 g baking powder

  • 0.8 g salt

  • 170 g butter, softened

  • 250 g white sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk extra

  • Royal Icing mixture

DIRECTIONS

Step 1 - Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and egg yolk. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough. I found it incredibly sticky and added a lot more flour to make it cookie dough like (about 20 tablespoon's worth or so). Divide dough into 2 pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Step 2 - Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Dough is sticky so be sure to add more flour to the rolling surface as needed. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Step 3 - Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 4 - To ice with Royal Icing, mix Royal Icing mixture with a little water until a piped line is able to hold without blurring. You will need two consistencies of royal icing, a firmer one to draw an outline on the outside with a piping bag and once this has set, a more runny version (although not watery) to fill it in with a spoon. Pipe an outline around the outside of the cookie and do the outlines for the rest of the cookies, by the time you finish doing the outline for the cookies, the first cookie outlines will have dried. Add a little more water to the Royal Icing and then using a teaspoon dollop a little onto the cookies and with the back of the spoon, move it to the edges. Do not overfill and be careful to keep Royal Icing covered as it dries out easily.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Best-Ever-Chocolate-Cutout-Cookies/Detail.aspx

Ghost cookies

Makes 30

  • 170 g butter, softened

  • 275 g white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 5 ml vanilla extract

  • 312 g all-purpose flour

  • 5 g baking powder

  • 3 g salt

  • Royal icing mixture (white with a small amount tinted black for the eyes and mouth or black from the coffin ones above)

DIRECTIONS

Step 1 - In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Step 2 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Step 3 - Bake for 5 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Filling in dried outline with runnier royal icing

Step 4 - To ice with Royal Icing, mix Royal Icing mixture with a little water until a piped line is able to hold without blurring. You will need two consistencies of royal icing, a firmer one to draw an outline on the outside with a piping bag and once this has set, a more runny version (although not watery) to fill it in with a spoon. Pipe an outline around the outside of the cookie and do the outlines for the rest of the cookies, by the time you finish doing the outline for the cookies, the first cookie outlines will have dried. Add a little more water to the Royal Icing and then using a teaspoon dollop a little onto the cookies and with the back of the spoon, move it to the edges. Do not overfill and be careful to keep Royal Icing covered as it dries out easily.

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Overfilled cookie

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Properly filled cookie

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Best-Rolled-Sugar-Cookies/Detail.aspx

Sour Bloody Mary

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

  • 30ml Grapefruit vodka (or more if you're game!)

  • 200ml Tomato Juice

  • 30ml Lemon Juice

  • Freshly ground black pepper & salt

  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Step 1 - Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a beaker. Then using the beaker pour into test tubes which you can either sit up in a test tube rack or in another beaker.

Some photos with all of my fellow ghouls, ghosts, goblins and witches!

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Aiyana the Bat takes flight. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Anneli pulling a scary face. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Figaro pulling his scariest face. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Little Vampire contemplates the food. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

The Ugly witch casts a spell. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Me playing Murder in the Dark. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Me as Corpse Bride crossed with The Ring. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Pops makes his presence and stomach known. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Pops is "murdered in the dark" Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Queen Viv's gorgeous Pumpkin Cheesecake. Photo by Onni

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

The Assman as Frankenstein

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Anneli hypnotises with her hands

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Witchypoo casts you under her spell

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Witchy pulls her scariest face

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

A ghoul's scariest face

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Little Devil and his pitchfork

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

The Little Vampire got bitten!

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

Croatian tourist shark attack victim!

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

The Shark Attack victim shows his kidney

NQN's ghastly, ghoulish Halloween party!

My handsome husband