Ideas for a "red menace" dessert buffet?

Joined Jun 28, 2017
Hi - I have a potential client who is throwing a "Red Menace" themed Halloween party. Does anyone have ideas for desserts that would fit in this theme? Anything that comes to mind would be helpful since I am absolutely stumped.. Communism in the 1950s and 60s brings to mind cabbage and famine - neither of which are great starting places for a dessert buffet.

Joined Apr 3, 2008
Does this mean blood? Red velvet cake shaped into something spooky comes to mind. Or cupcakes.

You must go on Pinterest. There are tons of Halloween desserts on there. If you just google images of "Halloween desserts" you'll get tons of ideas.
Joined Jun 28, 2017
The "red menace" refers to the threat of communism during the cold war period right after WWII. Apparently there's a 1949 film noir movie by the same name. So, I guess like, a really kitschy take on McCarthyism? I didn't come up with the theme.

I'm trying to come up with some fun ideas, but tbh it's super difficult. I lived in Moscow for a year when I was 17 (in 2002) as an exchange student with an older woman who actually lived through that period of Soviet history and it's just difficult to see it as fun/funny when I think about the stories she told me about growing up.

I think I might just suggest that I make desserts that are a little more generally Halloween-ish.
Joined Dec 30, 2015
Or cartoonish. Cartoon theme was HUGE during that era. Images that come up from Google:
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
I used to make a chocolate beet cake with red frosting when I worked in a Russian restaurant.
Joined Jan 25, 2013
find some cook books from that era. first thing I think of would be something built around Jello and either canned or frozen fruit.
Joined Jun 28, 2017
YOU GUYS ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST!!! Thank you for all the wonderful ideas - they are really helping me get excited about this event and put together a plan...

Here's what I'm thinking..

- Bright red table cloth and a paper cut of the Kremlin as a background for the desserts (thanks chrislehrer chrislehrer for inspiring that idea). Aka this: but in the shape of the Kremlin instead of a Christmas village. (and thanks to koukouvagia koukouvagia for suggesting pinterest, because that is where I found the image).

- A selection of desserts inspired by ones from that time period (as suggested by scott livesey scott livesey ) and traditional halloween candy but with concentrated/modernized/seasonal flavor profiles... so jello salad becomes fresh apple panna cottas in little glasses, reese's peanut butter cups become dark chocolate fudge brownies with roasted peanut ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt etc..

- Two types of decorative cookies (flavors tbd)... one in the shape of communist stars and topped with painted white chocolate (red and gold).. the other type will be decorated with images (like the ones suggested by drirene drirene ) printed onto icing transfers/wafer paper (but probably in black and white to add a film noir feel/more drama).

- An awesome cocoa-beet sorbet (thanks to P Pat Pat for that) served up by me so that I can shmooze with the guests and promo my corporate gifting holiday stuff.

Joined Aug 15, 2003
Something caviar looking might be cool...something with tapioca served in a caviar tin or something? with mini sweet blini, etc. I dunno...
Joined Jun 28, 2017
Ooooh! I love it! I could do little black and red licorice pastilles and served them in faux caviar tins with caviar spoons... so it would hit the Russian theme and the Halloween candy theme (twizzlers!)! I think I could probably get a pretty good combo of shape and texture if I made them out of gelatin and pectin and then dropped them into cold oil from a squeeze bottle with the top cut pretty low. They wouldn't have a pop like actual caviar or calcium/alginate spherification would give but they'd be similar to a firm pate de fruit... hmm...
Joined Apr 25, 2017
I don't know why, but potato candy immediately sprang to mind. It could be shaped into pumpkins or used in candy molds.

I hope you will post some pictures if you get the chance.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I used to make a chocolate beet cake with red frosting when I worked in a Russian restaurant.

I was just about to type something like that and realized you beet(!) me to it.

I've had beet cake before, and it was delicious. Reminded me of an earthier carrot cake, and beets certainly fit the "Russian" theme.
Joined Jun 28, 2017
Ok... you guys have absolutely killed it (in the good way) on this question. Many, many thanks to all. You've taken a theme I couldn't imagine in dessert form and given me so so much inspiration to work with and get excited about. The client is definitely in and they're expecting about 100 people so a nice holiday season kick off for me :).

Yes, I will definitely post photos but please don't expect too much, I tend to make relatively humble looking food. Also, the name of the game for me right now is *simplify* bc between now and the party 1) my tiny cottage business is moving to a commercial space!!!!!! in a really awesome culinary incubator (which happens to be across the state line so lots and lots of paperwork and fees) and 2) I promised myself I'd get all my holiday stuff mocked up/costed/priced and ready to rumble by Nov. 1st. and 3) my very wonderful fiance who helps and supports me in all the things I do will be working six day weeks from now until who knows when because that is restaurant life.

My tentative menu is as follows - I ended up leaning strongly in the Russian ingredients direction and tried to do all stuff I feel super comfortable executing in bulk:

1) Caramelized honey and rye bread crumb meringues with candied caraway seeds
2) Creme fraiche panna cotta with smoked pumpkin, pumpkin seed oil “caviar”, and toasted pepitas
3) Comrade Bogdanov's thumbprint cookies with red currant jam and sloe gin ganache
4) Black cocoa shortbread bars with roasted beet caramel and bittersweet chocolate ganache (like millionaire's shortbread but chocolate and beets)
5) Some type of caramel candy that I will be packaging in a little take-home thing with my business card

P Pat Pat and someday - I think there may be some correlation between an affinity for puns and sociopathic/sadistic personality traits - agree or disagree? Also, I'm definitely seeing the chocolate-beet connection and thinking cocoa nibs are going to be involved too..
Joined Jun 28, 2017
Ok guys... pics as promised. Unfortunately, the hosts of the events replaced all of the lightbulbs in the party space with red tinted bulbs which meant that all the pictures I took there turned out terrible... like this... and, it was impossible for people to see the detail on the red star cookies I worked so hard on.:(


But... here are some pics of everything while I was making it, and the food itself turned out awesome and delicious (and slightly different from what I initially planned but still good).

- Black bread meringues - these were my favorite of the night - weird in a good way, they tasted exactly like a sweet, crunchy cookie version of pumpernickel bread. I flavored them using a combo of apple cider vinegar, caraway, fennel, coffee, molasses, and cocoa and then garnished them with poppy seeds.


- Chocolate hazelnut shortbread bars with beet caramel and dark chocolate ganache - I didn't get a photo of the whole thing, but I took this really cool one while I was making the beet caramel (it faded to a dark red brown by the time it finished cooking):


- Smoked pumpkin panna cotta with burnt caramel, pumpkin seed oil "caviar", whipped cream, and spiced pepitas - the only photo I got is the weird red one above, but this was definitely a big hit and everyone wanted to know I how made the caviar which was a nice little talking point for me to shmooze with people because I'm not that good at networking if I don't have a food thing to talk about

- Juniper sugar cookies with red currant jam, cardamom ganache, and painted white chocolate toppers - I really liked how these turned out but the pictures don't really capture the effect - they have a shimmery metallic overlay on top of the red so they look kinda gold when you tilt them, but in the picture it just makes them look more pink/orange than true red - unfortunately this did not matter at all because no one could see them in the weird lighting - but at least they tasted good.
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Thank you again to everyone for your awesome help!


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