Spooktacular Halloween Party Ideas
Halloween is my absolute favorite time of year. So it only seemed right to pick up a few of Retro Planet’s Halloween offerings to kick off the season in style, and maybe give a few party tips and fun ideas for folks who want to throw a killer Halloween bash.
I purchased brain and heart gelatin molds, a fang ice cube tray, the skull shooters, the ABC Cookie Cutters, and the Nomskull cupcake molds. Now, the only thing Julia Child and I have in common is a propensity to be messy in the kitchen, so I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d end up with when I got all my Retro goodies.
Even the worst chef in the world can make ice, so ice was first on deck. If you’re planning on lots of fangs (or brains or bones), I recommend starting your ice-making well in advance or buying more than one tray. In fact, I would recommend advance prep for most of these goodies if you’re cooking for a crowd. I’d never used silicone before, so I was impressed with how how easily the ice popped out of the mold. It will also make your life much easier if you balance the silicone mold on something sturdy – a hard plastic tray or a thick piece of cardboard – to make the perilous journey from the sink to the freezer spill-free.
It occurred to me that there had to be more you could do with a silicone mold than just make ice. So, I came up with two experiments – homemade gummi candy and chocolates. For the gummies, I used the awesomely easy recipe I found at the Skip to my Lou blog. Side note: following the directions got me just over one tray of gummies, so if you’re planning on large quantities, I would absolutely look into buying gelatin in bulk. The gummies were a snap to make and looked amazing. Bolstered by how simple the gummies were, I took a deep breath and tackled chocolates.
The chocolate really made me nervous. My scant knowledge of cooking does not cover what kind of chocolate makes the best fangs. I settled on melting a bar of semi-sweet Ghiradelli baker’s chocolate with a handful of milk chocolate chips. To melt the chocolate, you can use a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler – I sure don’t – just hold a small saucepan over steaming water.
Here are a few things I learned from my chocolate making attempt:
- Transfer the melted chocolate into something that will be easy to pour from (I used a Dixie cup).
- Fill the molds about halfway, making sure to drip chocolate into all the little crevices, and then tap the mold against the countertop to get the air bubbles out.
- Fill the molds the rest of the way and tap again.
- Put your full molds into the fridge and wait (im)patiently for the chocolate to harden.
I was pleased with how my fangs came out, but if I had it to do over again I would love to experiment with different types of chocolate. Mine was a bit melty in the hand.
Then it was on to organs! I filled up the brain mold with a handful of gummi worms and a 6 ounce box of gelatin.
For the heart, I laid some blue and red candy strips down for veins and arteries and filled it with red gelatin. Sadly, the heart didn’t set well (my bad), so it didn’t survive its transplant to my photo shoot table. I had no problems with the brain, and proceeded to follow the directions on the brain box to make the opaque version. I didn’t have the right color so I wound up with a brownish-purple brain that I call “zombie brain.” The opaque brain recipe makes for a much firmer brain that holds its shape well and will stand up to such abuses as being switched from plate to plate and car travel. Visually, it’s pretty gag-worthy, especially after it’s been doused in candy blood, and my zombie brain was only partially consumed by one intrepid Retro staffer (who dubbed it “fruity” but did not turn into a zombie).
My next two projects were gingerbread victims and Nomskulls.
For the skulls I intended to remove from the molds, I chose a red velvet cupcake mix. I filled the molds about 3/4 of the way and only had one spillover during cooking. The pink frosting came from tinting the mix that was included with the red velvet cupcakes, though I had to stiffen it considerably with powdered sugar and the result was incredibly sweet. The green frosting I made with my trusty hand mixer and the recipe from Sweetopia (bottom of the page). While the red velvet skulls cooled, I cut the ABC men out and cooked them up. By the time that was done, the first batch of cupcakes slid easily out of the molds. I used a devil’s food cake mix for the cupcakes that stayed in the molds and set them to bake.
When all the baking was done, I started the fun part – decorating with pink and green frosting and cookie icing. I would encourage you to play around – a toothpick dipped in food coloring makes a great paintbrush once icing has hardened. Piping the “brains” from a bag was definitely fun – you can pick up a proper cake decorating set for under ten dollars like I did, or just snip the end off a plastic bag.
But cooking is thirsty work and what’s a Halloween party without drinks?
I whipped up a batch of sangria, dumped in my fang ice, wrapped some dry ice securely in cheesecloth, and plopped it into my punch.
VERY BIG AND IMPORTANT WARNING: Do not ingest or touch dry ice unless you are overly fond of trips to the emergency room, potential frostbite, and very bad things. Dry ice is 109 degrees below zero, made of frozen CO2, and should always be used in a ventilated room and kept away from children and pets.
I experimented a little bit to get the right amount of bubbles. Finally, I dipped the skull shooters in a saucer of candy blood and then into some red sugar, and filled them up. A bag of plastic bones I found at my local Halloween store added the final fun touch.
And there you have it! A gory assortment of spooktacular treats for the Halloween season. So turn on something spine-tingling (I recommend Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, or Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo), turn up the oven, and get ready to cook up some frightening fun for your Halloween party.