Halloween Jack Skellington Ricotta Olive Tarts

date10.27.14

Jack Skellington Tart

Halloween struts in at just the right time. With some sort of time warp, it’s magically the end of October and I’m on the brink of losing my mind. Anyone else with me? I poured a scoop of cat food into the detergent slot of the washing machine at 2am last week. It’s kind of like when you’re driving to the grocery store, but you autopilot to work instead. Except by the time you realize it, the cat’s giving you a quizzical look while you fish soggy cat food out of the washing machine. These are the time’s we’re in. Without hesitation, I’m taking Halloween up on its offer to get silly by dressing up my food with a spooky theme.

Jack Skellington Ricotta Tart

October 31st is really just an excuse to force our cats into costumes, intentionally purchase way too much of my favorite candy for only a handful of trick-or-treaters, and make frightful food. What better project for arts and crafts hour than one you get to eat at the end? That’s how this savory ricotta olive tart ended up as Mr. Halloween himself – Jack Skellington. An ode to The Nightmare Before Christmas using California Ripe Olives to make his creepy happy face because there’s only so much haunting I can handle.

Jack Skellington Olive Tart

My great-grandfather grew a row of olive trees along the edge of his country property. Every year, he’d brine the olives in large buckets in his garage. As a kid, our outings to Grandma & Grandpa’s house started with a trip out to the hen house to scoop up any newly laid eggs before heading to the barbed wire fence to feed dead grass to the neighbor’s horses (I’m pretty sure Grandpa planted the eggs before we came, because there never was an egg-less trip to the coop). We’d stop off at the patio for a go at using the much-too-heavy teetering fruit picker basket to harvest a few oranges, and then head inside where there’d always be a bowl of Grandpa’s cured olives set out as snack.

Nightmare Before Christmas Food

As part of the inland valley of California, the small farming community where my great-grandparents lived – just 30 minutes from where I grew up – was and still is a hub for family olive farms.

It’s no surprise then that I’m an olive lover, throwing them all over everything from nachos to spaghetti. With their pitch black color, they’re just the right eerie accent for my Jack Skellington tarts. Bonus: I got to pop the leftover olives on my fingertips while singing “This is Halloween, This is Halloween. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!” and dancing around the kitchen as the tarts baked.

Jack Skellington Ricotta Olive Tarts

Cute-factor aside, these ricotta olive tarts are actually flavorful in their own right. We’ve got oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, grated parmesan cheese, and fresh thyme hiding under a bed of garlic ricotta. The black olives add a salted briny element, without dominating the tart, while the sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta work to make the whole tart taste like an upscale deep-dish pizza with a flakey buttery crust. If you’re looking for a Halloween party food that will please adults and kids alike, these Jack Skellington tarts fit the bill.

Jack Skellington Ricotta and Olive Tart

In case there ever was a question of my coolness, here’s a throwback to Halloween 24 and 20 years ago respectively. At age 9 when my sewing teacher had me pick out my next project, I chose a felt Fred Flintstone costume. Obviously.

Halloween Fred Flintstone

This Halloween, we’re planning to set up a projector on our back deck to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus on the big screen (with lots of blankets and space heaters).

What are your plans for Halloween Friday?

And, because I’m always looking for inspiration, what are your favorite Halloween party treats?

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Halloween Jack Skellington Ricotta Olive Tarts
Author: 
Yields: 6-8 mini tarts
 
Ingredients
Crust (If making non-gluten-free, use 1¼ cups all-purpose flour instead of the sweet rice flour, millet flour, oat flour, and tapioca starch)
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup millet flour
  • ⅓ cup oat flour (I make my own by grinding whole oats in the food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)
  • 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • 5-7 tablespoons ice water
Filling
  • 1 can California Black Ripe Olives
  • 3-4 tablespoons juilliened sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1½ cups ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
Crust
  1. Whisk together the sweet rice flour, millet flour, oat flour, tapioca starch, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter and mix with your hands, breaking up the butter until the largest pieces are about the size of a pea.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, dribble in the ice water, combining each time, until the dough holds together when pinched with your fingers.
  4. Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces, depending on the size of your mini tart pans. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap each disc with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  6. Roll out each piece of dough between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper, sprinkled with millet flour until it's a circle 1 inch bigger than your mini tart pan all the way around.
  7. Peel off one piece of the parchment paper and flip the crust into the tart pan, parchment side up. Peel the second piece of parchment paper off and use your fingers to press the dough into the tartlet pan. Repeat until you've rolled out each mini tart. If your tart pan only holds 4, like mine, then you can work in batches.
Filling
  1. Thinly slice 6 black olives lengthwise into paper thin strips for the mouth, and cut 12-14 ovals for the nose, using a paring knife. Set aside.
  2. Chop 3-4 tablespoons of the black olives and divide them among each tart.
  3. Place 3-5 strips of julienned sun-dried tomatoes on top of each tart.
  4. Sprinkle about ¼ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves onto each tart, and divide & sprinkle the parmesan cheese among the tarts.
  5. Bake the tarts for 12 minutes, until the crust is lightly cooked.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the ricotta, greek yogurt, egg whites, garlic, and salt.
  7. Once the tarts come out of the oven, divide the ricotta filling among each tart, filling each one to the top.
  8. Place two whole black olives for the eyes and two small olive ovals for the nose onto each tart. Delicately create a criss-cross mouth (as pictured) using the paper thin olive strips. Tip: I used chopsticks to make it easier to place the olives.
  9. Bake each tart for 20-25 minutes, or until the ricotta filling is set. Depending on the size of your mini tart pans, start checking for doneness around 15 minutes. Serve warm.
  10. To reheat, bake on 400°F for 7 minutes.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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57 Comments

  1. Sarah, these are the cutest little tarts!!! A perfect way to use up those olives.

  2. So adorable, and of course they sound delicious too!

  3. Thisi s so darn cute! I love it and that is gluten free is a bonus.

  4. He is so cute! My kiddos would have a ton of fun making Jack’s face! Fantastic tart, Sarah!

  5. Sarah, these are so fun! I am a sucker for any kind of halloween themed food, but I love that these don’t have any sugar or candy in them!

  6. These tarts are adorable, Sarah! And so fun for the kids. I bet they taste amazing also!

  7. I’ll actually be teaching a group fitness class in the evening on Halloween and am not sure what will take place after that. Good for you, making a Halloween-themed dish that isn’t candy. Looks yummy!

    • Look at you! I’ll be chowing down on way too much candy and you’ll be EXERCISING! This is why you’re a better person. But at least you’re right – I kept the sweets out of my pumpkin-themed dish! :) Thanks, Ashley!

  8. Girl, this is literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!!!!

  9. Muhahahahaha I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas! It’s literally my favorite movie (I’ve even got my house decorated in a Nightmare Before Christmas them for Halloween! Love the tarts!

  10. I am SO in love with these tarts – we LOVE jack

  11. Aw, these tarts are the cutest! LOVE the flashback photos, too!

  12. These are the cutest things ever. You poor thing. Cat food in the dishwasher and at 2am. I am sorry. Loved the flashbacks pictures too. Pinned! :)

  13. These tarts look so cool (and super delicious!!). They are cute, and such a brilliant halloween recipe idea, Sarah!

  14. These turned out awesome Sarah!!! Olives make a perfect Jack face. And um, your Fred costume is freaking amazing. I’m impressed with 9 year old you.

  15. valentina says:

    love it! Such a cute idea.

    Valentina

  16. These are so cute, Sarah! And love the Halloween throwback photos! I don’t think I’m dressing up this year. I’m on passing out candy duty!

  17. Sarah Kat says:

    How cute! These sound sooo delicious! I always try to throw a halloween party and have themed food. I hadn’t planned one ahead of time this year because of a death in the family. Today I had the urge to throw a last minute party. If I do, these will DEFINITELY be on the menu, ha! I’ll let you know if I make them.

  18. Annie says:

    I can’t decide if I like the Fred beard action or the mismatched socks detail. also, besides being the cutest edible thing i’ve ever seen, I’m ready to devour these.

    • Those mismatched socks were a fashion statement that I started in Kindergarten and apparently kept up through at least 4th grade…It was my “thing.” I should bring that back. Also, my shoelaces were scented. Like bananas.

  19. 1. Is that YOU with the long blonde ponytail? Cause you’re the cutest!
    2. Olives on fingertips are a must. People who don’t understand it just don’t understand life.
    3. These tarts ARE AMAZING. I want to stick my face in one right now.
    4. On Halloween I am trick or treating with my nieces and nephews. At least three of them are going as Frozen princesses. I am also waiting to hear a story about my 6 year old nephew’s new girlfriend.
    5. My favorite Halloween treat? SKITTLES! (I’m not supposed to eat Skittles. I shall pilfer a fun size pack from the kiddos.)

    • 1. Yes! People used to ask my mom if she bleached my hair.
      2. I whole heartedly agree.
      3. Thanks, lady!
      4. What?! Scandalous! I expect MANY pictures.
      5. What about………..pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds instead???

  20. super cute sarah!! i love that they are savory too. we are going trick or treating around here.. theo and i will be gnomes, nick’s not sure yet, and lucas will be super why from this pbs kids show he loves. ;) see you manana!

    • Ah! I wish I lived closer so you could all come trick or treating here! If you’re up for an El Cerrito change of pace, I promise to have good candy…. ;) Excited for tomorrow!!

  21. These jack olive and ricotta tarts are seriously such a delicious idea Sarah! I think you definitely have stumbled onto a good idea making a savoury inspired halloween recipe considering how many sweet ones there are circulating at the moment!

  22. These are just darling! Such a clever idea!

  23. I bet these taste delicious!! Love the way you decorated these!!

  24. Jessica M says:

    This is undoubtedly the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve only recently started loving olives, and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all these years. I love any excuse for a savory tart, and now that you’ve combined Jack Skeleton!!!
    xo

    • SO missing out – oh my goodness! My dad hates olives and I just don’t understand. I keep trying to describe to him why they are SO GOOD – ha! So happy you’ve finally come around to olives! Thanks so much, Jessica:)

  25. These are amazing! Such a fun and unexpected use of olives! I’m going to run out and buy some immediately!

  26. Eeeeeshhh! I am impressed because not only did the first picture make me go, 0_0 in amazement at the accuracy of that face…haha. But this recipe contains my favorite ingredients–olives and ricotta. I don’t understand why so many people dislike olives, mehh. And I love your throwback, hah! Ps: Hocus Pocus is such a fun movie and I remember how surprised I was when I found out the blond witch was SJparker. :P

    • Haha – yay! I had to show it to several people to make sure the face was recognizable! I totally don’t understand the people who don’t like olives – they are one of my all-time favorites! (My dad hates them though – go figure!).

  27. so cute…lovely ricotta olive tarts:-) very creative!

  28. What a fun recipe! I like that this Halloween dish isn’t a dessert!

  29. These tarts….can I just say NEED?! Seriously loving that ricotta-olive filling. Must try these asap!

  30. These are super cute Sarah! I just love them, and they’re so creative – definitely Halloween! And, I LOL’d at you putting cat food in the washing machine! That is total autopilot right there!

  31. Hahahahahahahha…. cat food in the washing machine?!?! That’s epic! So funny. And I can totally relate to driving right past where you meant to go. Happens to me on occasion too. This tart is beautiful! Totally pinning. And what a great idea to watch an outdoor movie tomorrow! Sadly, Asheley always works every Halloween, leaving me to deal with the candy-hungry hoardes of kids that descend upon our doorstep.

  32. I can’t believe how fast Halloween crept up on us this year too. Oh my gosh girl, these tarts are adorable!!! I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas and I am totally impressed with your mad olive decorating skills girl :)So so fun!

  33. These tarts are awesome, Sarah! Although it isn’t halloween anymore, I would still love to eat them! That is hilarious about trying to put the cat food in the washer! Why on earth were you up doing laundry at 2AM?! I sometimes forget that I’m probably the only person my age who goes to sleep at 9, haha! I hope you had a great Halloween :)

  34. These are the cutest tarts ever! I’m a big fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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