Halloween parties have come a long way since people tried to convince blindfolded guests that peeled grapes were eyeballs and a bowl of spaghetti was someone's guts. Recipes for spooky and gross Halloween treats create impressively realistic brains, blood, and other terrifying tableaus. Some are so gruesome that they might not be appropriate for younger crowds, and even adult guests might have a hard time indulging, no matter how delicious the fare. Have fun putting together a ghastly and gory menu with these 23 recipes.
GREEN SLIME PUNCH
A spooky punch bowl can be the pièce de résistance at a good Halloween party. Start with a vessel such as a cauldron from a dollar store or party supply store, or decorate a large pot or bowl with spiderwebs. A recipe for bubbling swamp slime is sweet, refreshing, and non-alcoholic. To make the punch a little less sweet, substitute plain sparkling water for the lemon-lime soda.
Recipe: Mom Endeavors
Made from simple and cheap ingredients, delightful cakes made to look like severed fingers -- with almonds for nails -- are just the right balance of delicious and frightening. A large batch creates a dramatic look when placed together in a serving dish.Recipe: Martha Stewart
Bloody eyeball cookies are a sweet treat with some intricate steps. Using a toothpick with red food coloring to create the bloody veins on the eyeball results in a finer and more realistic look than using red food gel, although either option works. Serve these on a plate decorated with more red food gel to give them an extra gooey, bloody presentation.
Recipe: The Daily Meal
CAN OF WORMS
Take a classic edible worms recipe to the next level by serving the gummi worms as if they're coming out of a can tipped over on a bed of crumbled cookie "dirt." Making worms at home from gelatin, rather than using store-bought candy, allows for customized, true-to-life colors. Because they take a long time to set, the worms can be made up to a week in advance.
Give water a dingy, dark, and cursed feel by turning it black. Mixing in activated charcoal turns water dark gray or black without changing the flavor. Some people drink it throughout the year, believing the charcoal helps rid the body of toxins (which could help flush out all the sugar consumed at Halloween). It's available at pharmacies and stores that sell nutritional supplements.
Infused with chili and ginger, this non-alcoholic punch full of tart, sweet, and spicy flavors has a bright, bloody color that would appeal to vampires and serial killers alike. It also works well with a splash of liquor, such as vodka or tequila, for those who want to punch it up.
Recipe: Creative Homemaking
Tasty dumplings can be made to look like little brains, especially when served in glass beakers (borrowed from a lab or classroom, or summoned from a thrift shop). The filling can be whatever combination of ingredients you like, such as pork and mushrooms. The key is to soak the dumplings in a chile-sesame sauce to give them a raw, fleshy look. It's quite a sight to see people eat these with their hands and lick their fingers for every last bit of brainy goodness.
Turn regular Rice Krispies treats into zombie food by shaping them into brains. Large or small, these can be made in advance for easy display the day of the party, with red food gel to add another bloody dimension.
Recipe: Left Brain Craft Brain
BODY PART PUNCH
This grotesque idea is a fun and easy way to give guests a frightful thrill along with a refreshing drink: Add baby doll limbs to the serving bowl to transform punch into a cruel and ghastly experience. Adding sorbet thickens the punch and makes the visuals even better (or worse).
Recipe: Holiday Party SOS (scroll down to "Zombie Pop")
A simple recipe turns puff pastry into intestines. It's quick to make with just a few grocery store staples. Get creative with the filling -- it could be blueberry, black raspberry, or apricot jam, or go in a savory direction with guacamole and ground beef, like an empanada. Because puff pastry is delicate, this recipe is best made just a few hours before serving.
Recipe: Devour and Conquer
SPOOKY DEVILED EGGS
Deviled eggs are making a comeback as party food, and a couple of clever approaches make them perfect for Halloween: cute spiders with olives nested in a yolk filling; or creepy green and black wasabi eggs that are spicy and oh so tasty, with avocado substituted for traditional mayonnaise.
An edible human face made out of charcuterie is disgusting and delicious. The key to getting the right shape is using a plastic skull covered in plastic wrap as a base. Shop the local dollar store, or find one for $5 at Party City, and create a realistic look that some may consider a little too close for comfort.
Recipe: Food Thoughts of a Chef Wannabe
BLOODY GLASS BITES
Sugar baked into sheets of "glass" breaks into incredibly realistic shards -- sharp enough that they should not be put out for kids' parties. Adults can enjoy blood-splattered petit fours with sugar glass or "Dexter"-inspired suckers that look like slides of blood from a forensic lab. These creepy and bloody treats might take a few hours to set, cool, and dry, but they keep for a few days, which means they can be made well in advance.
A savory Halloween party appetizer as cute as it is spooky offers substance and nutrition alongside the sweet treats expected at a party. Meatballs with sliced-olive eyes rest inside potato-skin coffins, shrouded in cheese. They could be replaced with sausages or hot dogs, or a vegetarian option such as seitan or tofu, and the pickles can be eliminated by saying the mummy feet have been tucked in. "Mummy potatoes" travel well and can be reheated, making them a good option for bringing to a party.
Recipe: Betty Crocker
A brain cake is so realistic that no zombie could resist. The process of applying the fondant is a bit labor-intensive, but it goes a long way toward creating a brain-like texture. Red velvet cake makes this dessert even more macabre when sliced open.
Recipe: How to Cake It
This disgustingly simple and tasty dish sculpts basic meatloaf into the shape of feet to create a meaty main course. Any meatloaf recipe works well here (and can be shaped into other body parts, as well). The recipe relies on onions to create the details of the appendage, including toenails and bone, but garlic can also stand in for toenails, and celery is an effective substitute for jagged bone. Ketchup makes delicious blood, of course.
Recipe: My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Simple spider cookies are ideal for children's parties where other ghastly and grotesque treats might be over the top. They're also easy to assemble as a party activity. Black licorice strings between cookies form the legs on these cute spiders, and cinnamon candies are the eyes. Using red licorice gives the spiders a more poisonous look and a sweeter taste that might appeal to a wider audience.
Recipe: Taste of Home
EYEBALL ICE CUBES
Small touches can add a lot to a themed party. A video shows how to make very realistic eyeball ice cubes with a combination of scraped radishes and green olives with pimento. They pair with many different cocktails to create "eyeball highballs," and the flavors are mild enough to work in non-alcoholic and sweet drinks, including water and soda.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Cover pretzels and marshmallows in white chocolate to create sweet and salty snacks that look like bones. They can be drizzled with red food coloring to give them a bloody appearance for extra fright. They keep in a cool, dry place or in the fridge for up to three days.
Puff pastry, cured meats, and dips emulate internal organs in an edible human torso. Use it as inspiration for your own anatomically correct platter, perhaps topped with two racks of ribs. Then invite guests to tear apart the frightfully tasty dish.
Recipe: Making Jiggy