A new season, new ways to elevate the everyday.
INSTANT STYLE: ANIMAL MAGIC
Ready-made costumes for every Halloween party, these special masks and headpieces feature high-quality hand-stitched details that will earn them a permanent spot in your child’s dress-up chest — or in your own, since most fit comfortably on adult faces, too.
Sources (from left): Sundries and Plunder leather giraffe child’s mask, $63, sundriesandplunder.etsy.com. Poki Plays felt lion child’s mask, $23, pokiplays.etsy.com. Coral & Tusk fox mask, $52, coralandtusk.com. Acorn Toy Shop Pink Rabbit headpiece, $46, acorntoyshop.com.
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MAKE & TAKE: A MONSTER MASH
When you slice these brownies, you set loose a gaggle of red-eyed, chomping beasts — and your mob of hungry partygoers are the only ones who can defeat them.
If you’re up to the challenge, make a double batch of brownies to fit a 9-by-13-inch pan. While they bake, break 16 cream-filled cookies in half. Midway through the cooking time, press in the cookie pieces. Let cool.
Use royal icing to dot two “eyes” on each cookie, and add red nonpareils for pupils.
DARK-CHOCOLATE SPELT BROWNIES
The brownies can be stored at room temperature for up to two days.
▪ 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus more for pan
▪ 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent cacao, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
▪ 3/4 cup granulated sugar
▪ 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
▪ 3 large eggs, room temperature
▪ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
▪ 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
▪ 3/4 cup spelt flour
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving a slight overhang on 2 sides. Butter parchment.
2. Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and melt, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugars. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt, then fold in flour until combined.
3. Pour batter into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift out brownies with parchment overhang. Cut into 16 squares.
Makes about 1 cup icing
▪ 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
▪ 2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
▪ 1/4 cup water
1. Beat sugar, meringue powder and water with a mixer on low speed until fluffy but dense, 7 to 8 minutes.
SIP & REPEAT: SPOOKY SPIRITS
Candy is dandy, but liquor is quick to thrill, too — especially if you serve one of these sinister takes on a classic cocktail.
Spike a dark and stormy drink with spirulina to give it a murky color without altering the taste (promise!). Add a splash of Campari and a mysterious red orb (also known as a cocktail cherry) for a garnish. And let friends “bloody” old-school greyhounds with sweet homemade grenadine. Each recipe serves 1.
DARK AND SWAMPY: Whisk together 2 ounces spiced rum and 1 opened capsule spirulina powder (1/8 teaspoon). Fill a glass with ice, pour in rum mixture, top with ginger ale and stir.
MAYDAY: Place 1 cup ice, 2 ounces gin, 1 teaspoon creme de violette, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur in a cocktail shaker. Shake 30 seconds. Place a cocktail cherry in the bottom of a martini glass. Strain gin mixture into glass, then top with 1 to 2 teaspoons Campari.
BLOODHOUND: Bring 1/2 cup each light agave syrup, pomegranate juice and grated red beet to a boil in a saucepan. Strain, then return mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat until syrup has reduced to 3/4 cup, 5 minutes. Let cool completely. (Syrup yields enough for 8 drinks and can be refrigerated up to 1 month.) For each drink, pour 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice over ice. Sweeten with syrup to taste.
DO-IT-YOURSELF DETAIL: BOWL OF SOULS
These tortured treats will have your Halloween revelers screaming — in delight. Luckily for you, making them is painless. Just draw three small ovals with a black food-safe marker (try a Wilton Food-Writer edible color marker; $9 for a set of 5, michaels.com) to give white Jordan almonds ghoulish faces. Then set out the nihilistic nuts and start cackling.
EASY ENTERTAINING: Horror D’Oeuvres
One sign you’re not at the kids’ table anymore: The Halloween-party appetizers are as haute as they are horrific. These eerily elegant snacks include black-bean salsa with orange sweet-potato chips, a crudites tray that’s crossed over to the dark side, and a fromage specimen that’s as chilling as it is ooey and gooey. And they’re mind-bendingly quick to arrange.
Source: Jayson Home brass cheese cleaver, $45, jaysonhome.com.
1. MAKE DEVILISHLY SPICY BLACK-BEAN SALSA. Whisk together 1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo, the juice of 1 lime, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 cup finely chopped onion. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in rinsed and drained black beans (from a 15.5-ounce can) and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Serve with sweet-potato chips.
2. ARRANGE BLOODY BRAINS WITH MIDNIGHT CRACKERS: Plate a wrinkly bloomy-rind goat cheese, such as Bijou or Coupole, with charcoal crackers (try the squares from finecheese.co.uk) and currant jelly or lingonberry jam. For an extra “ew” factor, use the back of a knife to split the brain into two “hemispheres.” Serve at room temperature.
3. WHIP UP CREEPY CRUDITIES WITH MISO-YOGURT DIP. Whisk together 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon each white miso and water. Sprinkle with toasted black and white sesame seeds and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Serve with dark crudites, such as purple carrots, red cabbage, steamed purple potatoes, Treviso radicchio, black radishes and black olives.
PARTY TRICK: JUST TAKE ONE
To cement your reputation as the scariest house in the neighborhood, assemble this “nobody’s home” fake-out: Chalk the details of a door on black kraft paper and tape it to your real door’s interior frame.
Cut a hole in the middle that’s just big enough to fit your arm (covered in mummy tape or a werewolf paw), and place candy below. It’ll look like a mere prop — until it playfully slaps or grabs the fingers of anyone sneaking an extra treat.
Sources: Pacon ArtKraft paper roll, in Black, $29, amazon.com. Zagone Studio men’s wolf gloves, from $23, amazon.com.
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate