Halloween recipes from Amy Tobin

Chocolate Spider Truffles

Makes 2 dozen truffles

Note: This basic truffle recipe quickly morphs into spiders by coating in chocolate jimmies and adding red hot eyes and licorice whip legs.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 4 ½ hours

Tip: Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the truffles will last up to 2 weeks and can be frozen 1 month. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so before serving.

8 ounces good quality chocolate

1/2-cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons liqueur (Chambord, Grand Marnier, Baileys, etc)

½ cup cocoa powder for dusting

1 cup topping of your choice (finely chopped nuts, crushed candies, toasted coconut, etc)

Roughly chop the chocolate; place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chocolate is finely chopped; set aside.

Combine the cream, butter and liqueur in a microwave-safe container; heat at full power until just bubbling- watching carefully.

With the motor running pour the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate; process just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Form into small balls, using a melon baller or scoop. Roll in the cocoa powder to cover, then in desired topping.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Skeleton Men

Special equipment: Gingerbread men, black cat or witches hat cookie cutters

Makes about 3 dozen. Yield varies based on cookie cutters used

Dry ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Royal icing, recipe follows

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Whisk together dry ingredients; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the softened butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa powder. Working in batches, add dry ingredients. Mix at low speed until smooth.

Flatten dough into a disc; wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll dough out  to ¼-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly puffed. Cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing

4 and ½ cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons meringue powder

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.  Beat on low speed until thick and stiff, about seven minutes.

Color as desired with liquid or gel food color.

Store any unused icing tightly wrapped in plastic, refrigerate to keep firm.

For Flooding:  Thin icing with water to just pour-able consistency, like cake batter.  Use different colors

and pull to create designs. 

Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Makes about 16 popcorn balls

Cook time: 20 minutes

You can really dress these up by drizzling in white and dark chocolate and adding holiday sprinkles.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 cups popped popcorn

In a large heavy pot combine all ingredients except the popcorn; stir to combine.  Bring to a vigorous boil. Reduce heat.  Slowly add the popped popcorn, stirring to coat. Cook and stir until popcorn is coated, about 2 minutes. Cool mixture slightly. Use a ¼ cup measure to shape into popcorn balls.