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Eat your fears with these creepy Halloween recipes

Dismembered goat cheese hand in beet-blood orange splatter
Decorate with a beet “blood"-stained cleaver to get the full Halloween effect.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

So you’re having friends over for Halloween and you’re adult-ish. Forget the cute jack-o-lantern cookies and bat-shaped candies. What you need is this creepy cocktail-snack combo.

A ghoulish dismembered goat cheese hand has hints of onion-dip deliciousness with the addition of ground nigella seeds. (Along with black peppercorns, they also tint the dead limb a ghastly gray.) The beet purée “blood” coming out of the hand’s wrist balances the savory cheese with the vegetable’s natural sweetness.

Possibly scarier are these edible eyeball cocktails. Lychee eyes with blueberry pupils are suspended in a vodka gelée shot. Unlike classic college Jell-O shots soft enough to slurp, these are firm enough to pick up. Feeling that slick jiggly texture while staring into an eye you’re about to eat? It’ll definitely freak you out ... in the best possible way.

Dismembered goat cheese hand in beet-blood orange splatter
Dark, gothic platters evoke a haunted house.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Dismembered Goat Cheese Hand in Beet-Blood Orange Splatter

1 hour, largely unattended. Serves 12.

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You can buy the glove at a supermarket or online or try to free-form sculpt the hand. Nigella seeds, also labeled kalonji or black onion seeds, are available online or in Indian markets.

Goat Cheese Hand

Ingredients

  • ¾ teaspoon nigella seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 disposable medium-size glove, made of thin latex or plastic and powder-free
  • 5 Marcona almonds

Beet and Blood Orange Blood Splatter

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces peeled and steamed beets
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice (from 1 small blood orange)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 radicchio or purple endive leaf, cut into thin slivers
  • Pita chips or other chips or crackers, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the hand: Pulse the nigella seeds and peppercorns together in a spice grinder until very finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the goat cheese, 3 tablespoons cream and the salt. Smash and mix together until well mixed. If the mixture is still crumbly, add another tablespoon of cream and mix well until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch tip or a resealable plastic zip-top bag and snip a ½-inch hole in one corner. Stick the piping tip into the thumb of the glove and squeeze in enough goat cheese to fill it. Repeat with the remaining four fingers, then squeeze the rest into the palm and wrist. Use your fingers to massage and squeeze the goat cheese into the glove to form a realistic hand without any air bubbles or gaps. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the splatter: Pulse the beets, garlic, juice and salt in a food processor until very smooth, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Take a large spoonful of the beet mixture and splatter it forcefully onto a large serving platter. Transfer the remaining to a serving bowl. Cut the glove open to remove the hand carefully. If a finger breaks off, press it back on. Position the hand on the splatter so that it looks like blood is spurting out of the wrist. Press the almonds onto the fingers to resemble nails. Using a toothpick, stick the radicchio slivers into the wrist to resemble arteries and veins.
  5. Serve with the chips or crackers, instructing guests to put a little goat cheese and beet splatter on each serving.

Make ahead: The hand in the glove and the beet purée can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days before serving.

Halloween lychee eyeball Jell-o shots
Lychees and blueberries form glowing Jell-O eyeballs.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Halloween Lychee Eyeball Jell-O Shots

20 minutes, plus chilling. Makes about 18.

This makes enough cocktail mix for 24 mini muffin cups, but a can of lychees comes with 16 to 18 pieces of fruit. You can either open another can to make more eyeballs or fill the cups with just the liquid. If you do the latter, you can enjoy them as shots or use them to decorate the platter as pictures. A tablespoon of cranberry juice, pomegranate juice or blood orange juice will tint them a plasma-blood color.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) lychees in syrup
  • 2 packets (½ ounce each) unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup vodka, preferably citrus
  • 18 blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry jam

Instructions

  1. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup and pour the lychees into it. Shake the sieve gently to drain all the liquid. You should have about 1 cup liquid. If not, add enough water to make 1 cup and stir well.
  2. Pour ¼ cup lychee syrup into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the liquid. It should moisten evenly then soften as it sits for 5 minutes. Microwave the remaining lychee syrup until bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the softened gelatin into the bubbling syrup and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the vodka until well mixed.
  3. Arrange the lychees in mini muffin cups so that the open sides are upright. Pour the syrup into the lychee cavities and around the lychees to fill each muffin cup nearly to the rim. Place a blueberry in each lychee cavity, stem side down, to form the pupils of the eyeballs. Pour the remaining lychee liquid into muffin cups. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, slide an offset spatula or thin butter knife around the edge of a muffin cup and pop out the Jell-O shot. Arrange on a serving platter. Pop out the shots without lychees and break them into bits with your fingers to scatter around the shots.
  5. If the jam is seeded or chunky, press through a fine-mesh sieve. Put the strained jam into a piping bag or resealable plastic zip-top bag. Snip a very small hole in one corner. Pipe the jam around the berries on the lychees to make the eyes look bloodshot. Pipe any remaining jam around the platter to resemble drips of blood.

Make ahead: The Jell-O shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.


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