Oh, the crisp night air, the warm apple cider, the pumpkins. Don’t you just love this time of year? For most families Halloween means the first big festivity of the holiday season. While all the kiddies love the creepy, spooky side of this holiday, I’m all about the food. You, too?
Here’s a ghoulishly delightful recipe that couldn’t be easier. Well, I suppose you could buy cookies at the store. That is easier, but barely. If you want some homespun fun, either with your favorite people or enjoying creative time yourself, this cookie will make you happy. But you must use the magic words or the recipe won’t work. Here are the magic words: one bowl and no bake.
These sweet and salty crunchy cookies made with chow mein noodles and melted chocolate have been around forever. They go by many different names, such as chocolate clusters, Chinese clusters, haystacks and ting-a-lings, to name a few. They’re made with all the various chocolate and non-chocolate chips, and with assorted added ingredients, like peanuts, peanut butter, coconut, marshmallows, nuts, dried fruits and candies. Some sadistic people even add candy corn.
I’m calling my version of this Halloween recipe “Creepy Peeper Creatures” (say that three times fast!) because we’re adding candy eyeballs for spook-tacular “looking” results. “See” what I did there? You’re still trying to say Creepy Peeper Creatures three times, aren’t you? We have fun. I love my peeps. OK, I’ll stop.
This recipe uses green candy melts, usually found with the cake decorating supplies, along with candy eyeballs. If you can’t find green melts, you can use white chocolate, candy melts or almond bark and add green food coloring to get the desired shade of ghoulish green or leave them white. Or they can be purple or orange, use any color that floats your ghost. If you can’t find eyeballs, use candy coated chocolate pieces and dot with melted chocolate to make pupils. Or change the name to haunted haystacks.
This is a perfect holiday activity to do with the little kiddies. There’s no hot oven and no sharps. But there is forgiving measuring, exuberant stirring and lots of messy fingers, and we know that’s the best part.
Candy eyeballs usually go on clearance after Halloween, especially the bloody ones. They keep practically forever so it’s inexpensive to collect all the sizes. If you’re buying them just for this purpose, get the medium-sized ones, and remember you have them when you make snowman cookies for Christmas.
Speaking of things that keep practically forever, I learned something new while making these. Unlike other noodles, because they’re fried, chow mein noodles can go rather rancid, even when sealed in the original packaging. If you’ve had some lingering in the pantry check the “best by” date and give them a sniff and a nibble before you dip them in chocolate.
One last thought, since we usually share goodies with others around Halloween, please be mindful of food allergies, especially if you add peanuts. Have fun with this budget-friendly party food your little monsters will love.
CREEPY PEEPER CREATURES
What you’ll need:
One 12-ounce package candy melts or chocolate chips
2½ cups, about 5 ounces, chow mein noodles
½ cup mini marshmallows
12-18 regular sized marshmallows, optional
Assemble all your ingredients so you can work quickly once you start. Place wax paper or parchment on a cookie sheet or on a work space. Reserve about 1 tablespoon’s worth of chips to use as glue to attach the eyes later.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chips in 30-second increments, stirring until smooth and melted. Stir the noodles and mini marshmallows into the chocolate until everything is coated in chocolate. Drop the mixture, by heaping tablespoons onto the waiting parchment. Optionally, you can form portions of the mixture around a full-sized marshmallow to make larger cookies. Let the cookies harden for about 30 minutes.
Now, this is the fun part. Using the microwave, melt the remaining chips in a small bowl. Use a toothpick to dab a small amount of chocolate on the back of each eyeball and position the eyes in pleasing places on the cookies. Put them wherever the eyeballs make you smile. I had great success adhering them to the randomly placed mini marshmallows. You’ll see the cookies take on little personalities when you give them eyes.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org.