Kids may scream for chocolate bars and candy corn, but grown-ups will be impressed with these creepily Halloween-themed recipes and wine-pairing ideas. It’s no trick: Wine Enthusiast created a bewitching meal plan complete with a Smashing Pumpkin cocktail, black “Spooketti” and a torched Witch’s Tart that will have guests gobbling in no time. So get ready to dress up, dig in and drink up—this promises to be a food-focused night your friends and family won’t soon forget.
Spooketti and Clams
Recipe courtesy Rochelle Daniel, Executive Chef, L’Auberge, Sedona, AZ
The black noodles in this seafood pasta recipe get their creepy color from squid ink, available at most gourmet food stores.
“Black spaghetti is unexpected and sometimes diners shy away from the thought, but Halloween is a perfect opportunity to present it in an approachable way,” says Chef Rochelle Daniel. “And while the flavor of the noodle isn’t really affected, it’s a nice color contrast against the fresh clams and thyme pomegranate sauce and offers a beautiful presentation.”
If you’re short on time, you can buy premade squid ink spaghetti and skip this step.
For the pasta:
2 cups flour
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon squid ink
Place the flour in mixing bowl and make a well in the center for the yolks. Add the olive oil and squid ink, and slowly incorporate into the flour with a fork in a circular motion. Once dough starts to form a ball, knead until it becomes smooth and elastic, for about 8–10 minutes.
Rest pasta for 20–30 minutes. Divide into four equal parts and cover. On a clean surface area sprinkle flour, then roll pasta out into a sheet. Starting at the end closest to you, fold the dough lengthwise into 3-inch folds until the entire pasta sheet forms a flattened roll. Cut into spaghetti-like strands using sharp knife. Cook in salted water for approximately 3 minutes or until done. Drain well.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces sliced shallots
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 pounds fresh clams
2 cups white wine
5 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups clam juice
½ cup heavy cream
½ pound butter
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
In a large skillet over medium heat, add extra-virgin olive oil. Sweat shallots and garlic, for approximately 2 minutes, then add clams. Deglaze with white wine and herbs. Turn up heat to medium-high and reduce sauce by half. Add clam juice and stir.
Once clams open, remove from skillet with a slotted spoon. Remove clams from shells and reserve in a small bowl. Add cream to liquid in skillet and reduce by half again.
When finished, reduce sauce to low heat and whisk in butter, a small amount at a time, until fully incorporated. Add cooked pasta and clams to sauce. Toss and season with white pepper and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serves 4–6.
Executive Chef Rochelle Daniel recommends a Chablis, like Domaine Christian Moreau’s 2009 Vaillons Premier Cru to pair with the squid ink pasta and clams, “because of its apple and pear notes, minerality and high acidity,” says Daniel.
Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail with Roquefort Cheese
Recipe courtesy The Grant Grill, US GRANT Hotel, San Diego
Infused with pumpkin and warming spices, this orange-colored rum cocktail was featured on the Food Network’s hit TV show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and makes the perfect pairing partner for Roquefort cheese—a creative combination to start your Halloween-themed dinner party.
“The balance of the spice, fruit and acidity in the Smashing Pumpkin match up against the richness of Roquefort cheese wonderfully,” says Jeff Josenhans, head mixologist and certified sommelier. “The sanding sugar, mixed with the holiday spices, create an extra crunch and injection of flavor right on the end as well.”
1 tablespoon sanding sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ounces pumpkin- and star anise-infused 10 Cane Rum (recipe below)
½ ounce Grand Marnier
¾ ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
¾ ounce G.E Massenez Crème de Gingembre (Ginger Liqueur)
¾ ounce saffron syrup (recipe below)
2-3 dashes Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice
Orange putka pod, for garnish
Combine sugar, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, and rim a martini glass. Next, combine the rum, Grand Marnier, dram, liqueur, syrup, bitters and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into the martini glass. Float the putka pod as garnish.
For pumpkin- and star anise-infused 10 Cane Rum:
1 small pumpkin, cleaned and chopped
2 pieces star anise
1 bottle 10 Cane Rum
Pour rum into a nonreactive, lidded container or jar. Add pumpkin and star anise, and infuse for one week in the refrigerator. Strain before serving.
For the saffron syrup:
12 cups water
6 cups sugar
¼ cup saffron
Pour water into a large pan and add the sugar. Bring to a boil and take off heat. Steep the saffron for 3–4 hours at room temperature. Strain and store in refrigerator.
Courtesy Grace Donaghy, Pastry Chef, Little Market American Brasserie, Chicago
“The Witch’s Tart is both playful and elegant, from the rich, indulgent dark chocolate filling to the sweet toasted Swiss meringue on top,” says Donaghy. “The tufts of meringue resemble little ghosts. It’s a perfect ghoulish end to a Halloween dinner party.”
Bonus: Nothing says Happy Halloween like wielding a kitchen blow torch (the tool lends the meringue a scary, scorched look).
For the graham cracker tart shell:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup melted butter
⅓ cup sugar, plus ⅔ cup sugar for the meringue
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped 64% dark chocolate
2 whole eggs, plus 5 egg whites for the meringue
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat an oven to 400˚F. Combine ingredients and press into 8 tart shells. Bake for 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, bring the cream, vanilla and salt to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir until melted. Whisk in eggs until combined. Portion the ganache evenly into the tart shells. Reduce oven to 350˚F and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Place the egg whites, sugar and vanilla into a bowl, and place on top of a pot filled with simmering water. Whisk until sugar is melted and mixture is hot. Transfer to a mixer or use an electric beater and whip mixture until meringue is stiff and glossy. Pipe or spread meringue on top of the cooled tarts. Torch the meringue with a kitchen blowtorch until it turns a deep golden color.
For the salted caramel sauce:
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
In a medium-sized pot, combine water, sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat until mixture turns a deep amber color. Carefully pour in heavy cream and add salt. Let cool.
Gently warm the composed tart in the oven, approximately 4–5 minutes. Place a dollop of the salted caramel sauce on a plate, and spread with the back of a spoon. Top with the tart. Serves 8.
Little Market American Brasserie’s beverage consultant Paul Tanguay recommends Poet’s Leap 2012 Riesling from Columbia Valley in Washington State to pair with the Witch’s Tart. “This wine has the body and sweetness to hold up to the richness of the dessert,” says Tanguay, “without being cloyingly overbearing since it has bright acidity.”