Recipe: Cheesy, gnarled witch's fingers

by Julie Snyder

witches fingersTrick-or-treaters and adults alike can suffer from candy overdose around Halloween. Our recipe features a creative cracker that's loaded with protein and totally missing the sweet factor.

Gnarled Witch's Fingers are cheesy, crispy, creepy and sure to delight the whole crowd.

Set up a table at your spooky, holiday bash and call it the "finger food" buffet. Be sure to include a batch of these ghastly little nibbles!

Twisted witch's fingers cheddar bread sticks

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 55 minutes | Yield: 30 witch's fingers

Ingredients

• 5 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 3/4 cup flour
• 2 tablespoons cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
• 1 large egg
• salt
• 30 sliced almonds

Directions

In a bowl, rub together the butter, cheese, flour and cornmeal until it has the consistency of wet sand. Add the egg and stir with a fork until the dough holds together.

Scrape the dough onto a 12 by 14 inch piece of parchment paper. Cover with a similarly sized piece. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Leaving the dough between the parchment paper sheets, roll it into an 8 by 10 inch rectangle. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Peel off the top paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough first into half lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch strips. You'll have about 30 strips, each 1/2 inch wide by 5 inches long. Place each strip on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Using your fingers, round the top of each strip into a fingertip shape. Use a knife to score "knuckle" lines in each finger. Press a sliced almond "nail" on each tip. Bend the "fingers" to look knobby and gnarled, if you like.

Bake the fingers to a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Serve the fingers with dips and spreads, such as "guacamoldy" or as a side with devilish chorizo chili.

Cook's Note

For a slightly green and hairy witch's finger, switch out the cayenne for 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Instead of sharp cheddar use Parmesan cheese.

Shred two tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and set aside. Grate the remainder and make the bread sticks as directed above. Before baking, sprinkle the fingers with the shredded cheese to give them a hairy appearance. Serve with a marinara sauce.

Do you have a favorite spooky Halloween treat? Does it rate as an "ewwww" food or an amazing food?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.