For Halloween I wanted to come up with some fun recipes for everyone’s holiday parties, whether they be Halloween or Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. However, I wanted to find new recipes beyond the old standards. So, here is my take on three new tricks to treat your guests.
Graveyard Guacamole Chips and Dip
It’s the Great Guacamole Graveyard, Charlie Brown! Nah, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. It does, however, taste really, really good.
16oz can refried beans
16oz can chili with beans
1/2 cup salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken and/or pork
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
3 Haas avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 lime, juiced
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded
bag of tortilla strip chips (the long rectangular ones)
side of sour cream (optional)
- 3-quart rectangular casserole dish
- 3 small mixing bowls
- In first mixing bowl, combine the refried beans, chili, and salsa.
- In second mixing bowl, combine shredded meat and buffalo wing sauce.
- In third mixing bowl, make fresh guacamole by mashing the avocados, then combining with lime juice and salsa.
- Layer the ingredients as follows into your casserole dish.
a. First, the beans mixture, then a sprinkling of cheese.
b. Next, the buffalo-sauced meat, then a sprinkling of cheese.
c. Finally, the guacamole, and generously sprinkle on the shredded lettuce.
- Stick some tortilla chips into the dip to resemble headstones
- Serve with remaining tortilla chips and a side of sour cream, for the gringos who can’t stand the heat.
If you want to add a little extra spookiness to this, find some Halloween-shape cookie cutters, and make your own creepy chips. Use the cookie cutters to cut corn or flour tortillas into spooky shapes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until you have crispy critters. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
This of course makes a great appetizer for a macabre Cinco de Mayo, or anytime you want to spice up a dead (man’s) party. Furthermore, this quite frankly is a balanced meal in of itself, worthy of any gruesome occasion.
White Chocolate “Sugar Skulls”
Celebrations for Dia de Los Muertos just wouldn’t be the same without sugar skulls. A new tradition of making skulls, and even coffins, from chocolate is also emerging. Regular sugar skulls take special molds and years of practice (or maybe some meringue powder to help out). They also aren’t eaten when complete — licked maybe, but never eaten.
For our party needs, we’re going to make something a little more edible using white chocolate.
12 oz bag white chocolate chips (roughly 2 cups)
Royal icing, in many vibrant colors, fine tip
Or if you can find them “Candy Writers” which are tipped tubes of pre-colored white chocolate candy.
- Heat water in the saucepan over high heat until it begins to simmer, then turn off the stove and place the top pan (or bowl) over the water.
- Pour your white chocolate chips into the top pan (or bowl). It will take about 5 minutes for all of the chips to melt.
- Spoon your melted candy into your skull molds. Allow the candy to harden in the molds, at least an hour. You can refrigerate it to speed this up but your candy will melt faster later. Wait it out naturally if you have the time.
- Carefully remove your candy from the molds. If there are any side bits to break off, use a sharp knife to carve them off.
- Decorate with the icing or Candy Writers and allow the your decoration to completely dry. If you are able to use Candy Writers, they need to be warmed up in hot water, but they are the smoothest way to decorate these. Since they are chocolate on chocolate, the decorations will stay longer than royal icing will on chocolate.
You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave, but do this in small batches at 50% power.
Try to smooth the backs of the candy as best you can and don’t let any spread outside of the molds. You’ll have to break off any of these bits and it is hard to do that cleanly.
If your chocolate gets hard on you again as you work with it, it will become less and less easy to melt. The sugars reform bonds that get stronger each time. Turn the heat up on your boiler but only a little bit. If it gets too hot it could burn or seize up.
Also, like Gremlins, do not let your chocolate get wet. This will mess with the fats in the chocolate and then you’ll have nasty little blobs instead of smooth, silky candy. Never cover your melting chocolate with a lid, and do not let your water boil or you could get steam in your chocolate.
If the chocolate does seize up on you or get wet, here’s some tips that can help.
Decorating these skulls with your kids is part of the fun. If they are old enough, they could help you with melting the chocolate. That is if you can keep them from licking the spoon.
You can find chocolate molds in almost every craft store these days, like Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, etc. There’s also Amazon and eBay if you don’t have a local store with a large selection. For folks like me in Phoenix, ABC Cake Decorating Supplies has a HUGE selection of molds, and you can even buy them online. This is also where I found the Candy Writers which were perfect for the job.
If you want to try your hand at making real sugar skulls, the awesome folks at MexicanSugarSkull.com sell molds and provide recipes that make this traditional labor of love a little more accessible to the rest of us.
Blood Orange Sangría
I never drink… wine. Ahem. By itself, that is. I do love a good sangría. This is my personal favorite version that I have made for years, for many an occasion. What makes it a special treat for Halloween? Why the blood oranges, of course. Blood oranges from Florida can be found in stores in October making it the perfect season for Blood Orange Sangría.
1 cup blood orange juice (from 4 medium or 6 small fruit)
1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 bottle red wine (like pinot noir or merlot)
1 cup brandy
2 small red delicious apples
1 can cold lemon-lime soda (optional)
- citrus juicer
- large pot
- large pitcher or punch bowl
- Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces about 1/2 inch to an inch in size. Or if you have one of those wicked spiral slicers, those peel, slice, and core an apple quickly and beautifully. Add these to your pitcher/bowl.
- Cut your blood oranges in half and then slice one thin ring from each half. Add these to your pitcher/bowl.
- Juice the blood oranges, getting every last little drop. I find electric juicers work best, but there’s nothing wrong with using an old school juicer and some elbow grease.
- In the large pot, over medium heat, combine the blood orange juice and the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- To the juice, add the wine and brandy. Stir to incorporate everything well.
- Pour into the pitcher/bowl and refrigerate until well chilled, about an hour.
- Remove from the refrigerator and add the soda. Stir well.
You can make a virgin version with pomegranate juice or your favorite fruit punch instead of the alcohol.
If you want to make this when blood oranges are out of season, try to find Cara Cara navel oranges. They have a ruby pink fruit like grapefruit but they are remarkably sweet.
Pour this sparkling Spanish drink into your favorite glass, with or without ice, and enjoy the best of an autumn harvest. ¡Salud, dinero y amor, y el tiempo para gozarlos!