Date spiders and other Halloween treats

Medjool Date Spider Treats. (Natural Delights Medjool Dates, natural-delights.ca)

Medjool Date Spider Treats. (Natural Delights Medjool Dates, natural-delights.ca)

Rita DeMontis, National Food Editor, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Halloween's only a few hours away, and we're all in the spook mood for some ghoulish grub.

Whether adults are gathering for a traditional monster mash bash, or the kids are gearing up with costumes for school parties and trick-or-treating, it's all about having a howling good time.

Research shows Halloween is one of the most popular events of the year and Canadians really get in on the fun. Hallmark Canada reports Halloween is the third largest party day behind New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday. Hallmark also reports Halloween is also one of the fastest growing holidays for home décor – both inside and out. By some estimates, Halloween is No. 2 in holiday home décor behind Christmas. (Just take a drive around your neighbhourhood and you'll be amazed at the special effects!)

According to Carlton Cards, nearly 68% of us plan to celebrate by wearing a costume, handing out candy, decorating the house or hosting a party.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know candy sales spike during Halloween, with dental visits not far behind. And Halloween's an excellent excuse for a party for both kids and adults — what's not to enjoy?

Let the haunting begin with the following recipes.

Medjool Date Spider Treats

Try these cute and tasty date spiders. Recipe created on behalf of Natural Delights Medjool Dates (natural-delights.ca) by chef and cookbook author Emily Richards.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup (250 ml) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) smooth peanut butter
  • 2-3/4 cups (675 ml) crispy chow mein noodles
  • 8 fresh, natural dates, pitted and halved lengthwise
  • Mini marshmallows (just a few)
  • 32 Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Line two baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper and set aside.

In a heatproof bowl, set over hot (not boiling) water, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter until combined well. Stir in noodles until well coated.

Using a soup spoon, spoon out mixture onto prepared sheets to make about 16 spiders. Top each with a date half and press gently onto noodle mixture. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Using scissors cut mini marshmallows into small bits to make eyes for spider and use mini chocolate chips to complete eye if desired.

Makes about 16 spider treats.

TIP: Once firm and set you can keep these treats refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

R.I.P. Chocolate Chess Pie

Devilishly delicious, this simple pie is easy to assemble - and disappears faster than ghost sightings! Recipe courtesy of Tenderflake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 all-vegetable shortening frozen deep dish pie shell
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) flour
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 (150 g) pkg. giant lady finger biscuits
  • 1/2 (120 g) tube decorative chocolate icing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Prick pie shell all over with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325F (160C). Combine sugar, cocoa, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in milk. Whisk in eggs one at a time, add butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour mixture into partially baked pie shell. Return to oven and bake for 55-60 minutes. Allow pie to cool completely and decorate by sprinkling chocolate cookie crumbs on top. Cut ladyfingers into halves and use decorative chocolate icing to write your own spooky messages on the “tombstones.” Stick cookies into pie creating a “graveyard."

Serves 8.

"Bite”-Sized Snacks

These scary fun “applewiches” are a simple, healthier alternative to a Halloween snack. Recipe courtesy of The Pampered Chef.

Cut one medium apple into wedges. Spread peanut butter on five wedges. Arrange five mini marshmallows in peanut butter (closer to the apple skin) to resemble teeth. Then, press five remaining apple wedges down onto marshmallows and serve up the smiles. Us a few almond slivers in between to give the "mouth" a wizened look.


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