“What was under that rock?” Halloween Trifle

In the course of (culinary) exploration, you occasionally encounter specimens so odd and rare that you collect them, so you may study and appreciate their unique qualities. And eat them.

This is a rich variation of the classic English dessert. It is pretty (scary) layered in a glass bowl and served with a new trowel or placed in a cauldron.  Layer crumbled brownies, cheesecake filling, chopped nuts if you wish, chocolate pudding and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Top with meringue mushrooms, candy stones, gummy worms and tarantulas. Garnish with mint leaves.

“What was under that rock?” Halloween Trifle 
Mix together and chill for 30 minutes
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 C  milk
Buy, or bake according to package directions one
 9 x 13″ pan of brownies
        Set aside to cool, then crumble. Crush about
30 chocolate sandwich cookies
        Set aside. Whip together
 8 oz   whipping cream
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Fold in
2 – 8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
        Place in bowl and chill until time to use. Chop and set         aside
1 C peanuts, walnuts or pecans (optional)
In the serving container layer half of the brownies, half of the cream cheese filling, and nuts, if used. Tuck in a few
gummy worms
while layering. Repeat layers, top with pudding, crushed     
cookies, and a few more gummy worms. Decorate with    candy stones, mint leaves or parsley, gummy worms and    
spiders if you dare!

Meringue Mushrooms
        Preheat oven to 200°. Line a baking sheet with 
        parchment. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the  
        whisk attachment, beat until foamy
2 egg whites
            add and continuing beating
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
sprinkle of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
            While the mixer is running, stir in one TBSP at a time
1/2 C sugar
Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy about 5 to 7 minutes. Place meringue mixture in a plastic zipper bag, squeeze out excess air and seal. Cut off one corner to make a 1/2″ opening.
Note: When making meringue shapes, allow an inch or two around each piece for expansion while baking.
Place the tip of the bag on the parchment and squeeze out six 1″ to 2″ stems (should be standing up). Enlarge the opening to 3/4″ and squeeze out circles to make mushroom caps in varying sizes. Moisten your finger with water and smooth the points on top of the mushrooms to get a rounded top on the cap and flat top on the stems. Lightly sprinkle the caps with cocoa powder. Bake in the center of the oven at 200°for 1 – 1 1/2 hour or until dry and dark cream in color. Melt
1/3 C milk chocolate chips
Dip the tops of the stems into melted chocolate, place on upturned caps. When chocolate sets, store mushrooms in airtight container or place on trifle. Stored in an airtight container, the mushrooms will keep for several weeks.

 For more unusual and delicious culinary specimens, pick up your