by: Michael Vyskocil, photography by: Tara Hope Cofiell

It’s a night of festive pageantry, scary and surprising touches, and foods that can make you scream.

When you think about Halloween, what usually comes to mind are the traditional tricks and treats of the sugar-coated kind É caramel apples, peanut brittle and candy by the trick-or-treat truckload. But this year, why not try something a little more elaborate for celebrating Halloween?

Start with a deep, dark blood brew cooled appropriately with ice hands and a frozen face. What to have for dinner can be downright frightful when your tomato soup comes to the table with floating eyeballs as the garnish.

And we can’t forget the wicked witches this Halloween. Any little ghoul or goblin would love to get one of our spooky little ladies in his or her goody bag.

Tomato Soup with Floating Eyeballs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cans (about 28 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed
4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup milk
Coarse salt and freshlyground black pepper
30 whole, small red radishes
15 small pimento-stuffed olives

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic; cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add wine; cook until liquid is almost evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock or broth, and thyme.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until soup thickens, 50 minutes.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs. In a blender, puree soup in small batches until smooth.
  5. Return to saucepan and slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. To make the eyeballs, trim the stems and root ends of the radishes and use a paring knife to scrape off most of the red skin. Leave a few slivers of red to simulate red veins.
  7. Rinse the radishes under cold running water; use a small melon baller to cut a ?-inch-diameter hole in the radish.
  8. Cut olives in half crosswise; stuff an olive half, cut side out, into the hole to make the eyeballs.
  9. To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls. Float 5 eyeballs in soup and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Wicked Witch Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk
1 recipe Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Icing
Paste food coloring in desired colors
12 sugar ice-cream cones
1 box rolled strawberry fruit leather,for decorating
Small candies and M&Ms, for decorating

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and grated lemon zest.
  4. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. Divide cupcake batter evenly among liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until tops are golden brown and the tops spring back when touched, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan once during baking. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool cupcakes completely.
  6. Divide icing among several small bowls and tint one with green. Tint others with shades of desired food coloring. Frost cupcakes with green icing and frost sugar cones with desired icing shades.
  7. Unroll fruit leather and cut out desired shapes (circles, squares, etc.) with 1-inch cookie or aspic cutters. Press shapes onto frosted cones.
  8. Place cones on top of cupcakes. Create faces using fruit leather for mouths, small candies for noses and M&Ms for eyes. Spoon desired shade of icing into a resealable plastic bag, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe dots onto M&Ms to create eyeballs. Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Icing

6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, 4 tablespoons milk and the vanilla extract until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the mixture, as needed, to achieve a good spreading consistency. Makes 3 1/2 cups, enough for about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Blood Brew with Ice Hands and Frozen Face

For the Blood Brew:
1 gallon Concord grape juice
6 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg

For the Ice Hands and Frozen Face:
Powder-free plastic gloves
Twist ties
Baking sheets
Molded-plastic face masks
Wide duct tape
Plastic shoe box
Bubble wrap

For the Blood Brew:

  1. Place the grape juice in a medium stockpot. Cut an 8-inch square piece of cheesecloth and place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg in the cheesecloth. Gather corners of cheesecloth together and tie into a sack with kitchen twine. Place the sack in the grape juice.
  2. Bring the juice to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 25 minutes until the juice is infused with the spices. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, pour Blood Brew into a large punch bowl and add Ice Hands and Frozen Face.

For the Ice Hands and Frozen Face:

  1. To make the Ice Hands, rinse the gloves well, inside and out. Add enough cold water to fill the gloves loosely but not so full that the fingers won’t move.
  2. Fasten the open ends of the gloves shut with a twist tie. Place cornmeal on a baking sheet and lay the gloves on the cornmeal. Freeze until the ice hands are completely frozen.
  3. When ready to serve the Blood Brew, rinse cornmeal from gloves and carefully cut off the gloves with scissors. Peel gloves away from ice hands. Add hands to punch bowl along with Frozen Face.
  4. To make the Frozen Face, choose a mask with distinct facial features. Rinse the mask with water and dry well. Tape over all the openings (eyes, nose, mouth) inside and out with duct tape.
  5. Line a plastic shoe box with bubble wrap. Place the mask face down in the box; fill the mask 1/3 full with water, leaving space along the top. Freeze for 2 days. The water in the mask should be frozen solid before using.
  6. When ready to serve Blood Brew, remove the ice face from the mask by briefly placing the mask in a bowl of warm water. Release the mask from the ice face and float the face in the punch bowl along with the Ice Hands. Makes 1 gallon of brew, 1 set of ice hands and face.