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Spooky Food

Before you send your kids out the door with their plastic cauldrons, fake blood and chalky, milk-white faces, it's worth holding a little pre-Halloween feast crack

Feed the kids before you go trick or treating with food you've cooked and they'll be less likely to fill up on sweets while going round."

You could make it lunch or a tea party, but the key to a successful Halloween feast is to make things easy on yourself.

"Be creative and imaginative with your food for a Halloween Spook-tacular feast."

Try these super Halloween party food recipes with your family.

Eyeball pasta (Serves 4-6)

100g cherry tomatoes
150g pack mini mozzarella balls, drained
Handful basil
400g green tagliatelle
350g jar tomato sauce
4tbsp fresh pesto

Halve the cherry tomatoes and use a small, sharp knife or a teaspoon to remove the seeds. Cut the mozzarella balls in half. Place one half inside each tomato, trimming the edges if necessary to fit it in. Either cut the smallest circles you can from a basil leaf or finely chop the leaves and scrunch into small circles. Place one at the centre of each mozzarella ball.

Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, heat through the tomato sauce. When the tagliatelle is cooked, drain and stir through the pesto and any remaining basil, chopped finely. Divide between 4-6 serving bowls. Spoon over some tomato sauce, then arrange the stuffed tomato eyeballs on top.

Freaky fingers (Makes 20)

100g caster sugar
100g butter
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
20 blanched almonds
Red food colouring, paste is best (optional)

Place the first five ingredients and a pinch of salt in a food processor and whizz just until a ball of dough forms.

Tear off a golfball-size piece of dough and use your hands to roll into finger-size cylinders - you should get about 20.

Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment - a little apart as they will spread during baking.

Use a knife to make a few cuts, close together, for the knuckles. Place an almond at the end of each finger and trim away excess pastry around the edge to neaten. Place in the fridge for 30 mins, then bake for 10-12 mins just until firm. Leave to cool a little, then paint the almond with food colouring, if you like. Can be made up to three days ahead and stored in an airtight container.

Haunted graveyard cake

To decorate:

1 egg white
50g icing sugar
200ml single cream
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
½ a 250g pack rich tea finger biscuits
100g double chocolate cookies
25g white chocolate
Silver balls, to decorate

For the cake:

85g cocoa powder
200g self-raising flour
375g light brown muscovado sugar
4 eggs
200ml milk
175ml vegetable oil

To make the ghosts, heat oven to 110C/90C fan/gas. Whip the egg white in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar a tbsp at a time and keep whisking for a couple of mins until the mixture is thick and resembles shaving foam. Gently spoon the mixture into a large freezer bag, then cut a 1.5cm hole in one of the corners. Cover a baking sheet with some baking parchment. Carefully squeeze a small circle of whipped egg white out of the bag, pulling upwards as you do to make a ghost shape. Repeat until the mixture is used up - you should get about 15 ghosts. Bake for 1½ hrs until crisp. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

Now make the cake. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the cocoa powder, self-raising flour and sugar into a large bowl, breaking up any clumps of sugar. Mix together the eggs, milk and oil in a measuring cup or bowl, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir everything together until smooth.

Grease and line a deep baking dish (20 x 30 x 5cm) with baking parchment. Pour in the cake mixture and bake for 30 mins. Leave to cool, then turn out onto a serving plate. Alternatively, wrap well and store for up to two days.

Finish decorating the cake: heat cream in a saucepan until just boiling. Place the dark chocolate in a large bowl and pour over the hot cream. Stir until the chocolate melts. Use a clean brush to paint a layer of chocolate over 7 rich tea finger biscuits, then set aside to cool. Pour the rest of the chocolate mixture over the cake and smooth over with a knife. Whizz the chocolate cookies, or bash in a freezer bag with a rolling pin, until small crumbs form. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Place the white chocolate in a small bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Leave for 5 mins or until melted, then spoon into a small freezer bag. Wait for 10 mins so the mixture is not too runny, then cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe out 2 small blobs onto each ghost, place a silver ball on each to make eyes, then pipe out suitable words and shapes on the gravestones. Leave for 30 mins to set, then push the biscuit gravestones into the cake and arrange the ghosts around. To get the ghosts to 'fly', push a thin wire (you can get these from a florist shop - remember to remove before eating) into the bottom of the ghost, then place in the cake, hiding the wire behind a gravestone.