I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on the magnetism between me and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I love it in all its forms. It probably started when I saw that Wishbone episode as a kid, and for some reason, mentions of the Headless Horseman always lingered in the back of my mind. It must have really sparked my curiosity, because almost 20 years later, I researched to find out more about the fable, specifically this headless villain. Curiosity grew to a mild infatuation. Even my cat got dragged into the fascination.
It was then, after research, that I stumbled upon and watched Tim Burton’s telling of the story and really fell in love with it. There was a time when I used to fall asleep to it every night. I also adore the original Washington Irving short story, and of course the old Ichabod Crane Disney cartoon. I watch that one a few times per autumn. The Sleepy Hollow series on Fox is pretty good, but they’ve gotten a little off-track from the show’s original approach. Tim Burton’s adaptation has always been, by far, my favorite telling of the story.
The original plot is quite simple yet so chilling, and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to love. Ichabod Crane relocates to the little colonial town of Sleepy Hollow, where the citizens caution him of the community’s infamous legend of the Headless Horseman. There is said to be the ghost of a headless man who rides through the woods at night, chopping off heads where he finds them. In this film’s version of the story, Detective Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to discover whether there is truth to this superstition, and if not, who is responsible for a series of local murders. It combines some of my very favorite elements: Tim Burton, Halloween, crisp autumn atmosphere, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and a true whodunit murder mystery.
I watch the movie every Halloween night, and make an event of doing so. I always put together a little Halloween-themed smorgasbord for snacking during the movie, but have long fantasized about upping the ante and coordinating the food with the film. Thank goodness I have a food blog as an outlet for such fantasies! Let’s begin with the drink table.
“It is only to raise spirits during this dark time that I, and my dear wife, are giving this little party.”
First up, I made some “Tarrytown Tea”.
This is easy and requires only two ingredients: freshly brewed strong chai tea, and apple cider. Combine them in equal parts, or a little heavier on the cider if you’d like a sweeter drink. This can be served hot or cold. If you have a carafe or an urn, that will make serving this drink hot very easy.
Here’s another great drink you MUST serve if you’re able to find it: Ichabod Pumpkin Ale from New Holland Brewing. There isn’t a more appropriate time to have a few bottles in your fridge.
Click here to find out if it’s sold in your area.
By the way, I found that little cardinal at the Dollar Tree in the Christmas decorations. It comes in a pack of two.
Next, serve a Horseshoe Canape! This is just an inexpensive smoked Polish sausage with some cheese and crackers to snack on.
It’s as if the Horseman left a horseshoe behind, and it landed right on your coffee table.
The main course is what I call “Brom Bones“.
Brom Van Brunt is a main characters in most versions of the Legend, though admittedly he’s fairly minor in this particular movie. In both the original short story and the Disney cartoon, the character’s nickname is “Brom Bones”, and that is how he’s always addressed. Though they don’t use that term in the Burton film, he’s still widely known by that name.
Anything with visible bones will do for this dish. You could use bone-in pork chops, pork ribs, beef ribs (which are pictured here), or even chicken legs and wings. Just to drive the point home, I also roasted some inexpensive marrow bones and plated them alongside the ribs.
I also served a creamy horseradish sauce, which goes best with beef. I called it, “Headless Horseradish Sauce“.
This is a very easy dish. Just serve any spiraled pasta, like fusslil, fusilli rigate, rotini, cellatini, or gemelli, and serve it with a white sauce of your choice. Add 1/2 tsp. turmeric or a few drops of yellow food coloring to enhance the “blonde” color of the pasta. You could certainly make my Easy, Skinny, Creamy Pasta recipe. Just use white flour pasta (as opposed to whole grain), use yellow cheddar instead of white, and go easy on the herbs.
On to the real reason we’re all here: Dessert!! All of these are absolutely as simple as can be.
The first one couldn’t be any easier. All I did was purchase some Pumpkin Cupcakes and top them with one of these Wilton Sugar Axes I bought at Michael’s.
I love these as part of this spread for quite a few reasons. First and most importantly, the most climatic scene in the movie takes place in the town’s windmill. Secondly, these cookies are Dutch, as were the residents of Sleepy Hollow! Thirdly, everyone who partakes will appreciate them because they’re so good.
These can sometimes be a bit tricky to find. Of course, the first place to look is the cookie aisle in the supermarket. If they aren’t there, the bakery department might keep them in stock, so check that section as well. If you still don’t find them, Trader Joe’s and The Dollar Tree usually carry them.
I also made a few Chocolate Bat Cookies.
These are the same Chocolate Shortbread Recipe I used for the Thackery Binx Cookies in my Hocus Pocus party blog. I also added some black food coloring so the cookies would look black and not brown.
Last but not least, my favorite dessert for this party is easy, creepy, delicious, AND healthy! If I may say so, I’m a bit proud of this one.
“Tree of the Dead” Bark
1/2 C coconut oil, melted
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 C honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
2 Tbsp raspberry jelly or jam
Kosher or flake sea salt, for finishing
Stir coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl until smooth.
Line a very small (toaster oven-sized- roughly 10 x 7″) cookie sheet, casserole dish, or airtight plastic container with parchment or wax paper. Pour half cocoa the mixture onto the paper and spread in a thin, even layer. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm raspberry jam for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave, until looser and more fluid. Retrieve the first layer of chocolate from the freezer. Using a spoon or offset spatula, spread on raspberry jam in as thin a layer as you can. Add a bit more if the 2 Tbsp doesn’t quite cover the chocolate. Place container back in the freezer for about 20 minutes, until raspberry layer is slightly firm and doesn’t stick to your finger when touched.
Place the bowl containing the second half of the chocolate mixture in the microwave. Warm for no longer than 5-10 seconds. (Overheating will cause the chocolate to seize and coagulate, and you’ll have to throw it away.) Heat until just warm and spreadable. Spread the remaining chocolate on top of the raspberry layer. Make sure no raspberry is peeking out. Quickly, before the chocolate solidifies, sprinkle a bit of kosher or flake sea salt on top while the chocolate is still shiny, so the salt will stick. Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to finish solidifying.
Break bark into pieces. They can be served immediately or kept in a container and refrigerated until ready to serve. Keep these away from heat!
I hope you love this festive and easy menu. Sleepy Hollow is currently available for streaming on Netflix, so it will be ready for you come All “Hollow’s” Eve!
“The Horseman comes!! And tonight he comes for you!”
No Crust Apple Pie– Add a crumb topping to make it Dutch apple pie!
Ichabod’s Trail Mix via CapturingMagic.com
Colonial Hot Buttered Rum
Shrunken Apple Heads in Cider via Martha Stewart
Hocus Pocus Rolls (Label them “Hollow Rolls”)
Headless Horseman Photo Booth