If Morticia Addams baked cakes, then we're sure they'd look like this. Slice of Gremlin, anyone?
This Halloween, you have got to up your food game. Peeled lychees as witches' eyeballs just aren't going to cut it anymore. Especially now that Christine McConnell has been showcasing her excellent black humour bakes to her 150,000 Instagram followers.
The US baker is big into gothic scenes (and is also a stylist) so over the past few years, she's devoted herself to creating some jaw-dropping works of cakey art, like her spiders eggs-and-web one (yikes!), the little shop of strawberries horrors creation (eek!) and the menacing Gremlins tribute (actually, quite cute).
Her retro-baking skills have led to her publishing a book, Deceptive Desserts: A Lady's Guide to Baking Bad (Hardcover, RRP £16.99, Simon & Schuster UK), which will be released in March 2016. Until then, while we we're giving ourselves the heebie jeebies by looking at her horri-fantastic projects, we also grabbed her for a chat about all things spooky in the kitchen.
Mary Berry, it looks like we're not in the Great British Bake Off anymore …
How did you get into baking?
"When I was seven, my grandmother showed me how to make fudge but that was my only formal training in the kitchen. I've always been super into sweets and was fascinated by the process of baking desserts, but didn't realise I had a knack for it until about five years ago. I decided I wanted to learn how to decorate a cake so I turned to Googling and watching YouTube videos whenever I hit a roadblock or had a question. The internet is the best teacher that has ever existed – in my opinion!"
Similarly, how did you get into styling? You've got a great eye for it
"I would describe myself as a very visual person and I've always been really enamoured with how things are decorated and put together. I'm terrible at a lot of things, but I consider myself best at looking at something and knowing when there's something missing or in need of adjustment."
What made you want to get into the dark side of baking?
"I've always been fascinated by things that are dark. My favourite combination is mixing things that are wholesome and beautiful with things that are subversive and morbid; I see the world as being both of these and it seems natural to me to bring them together."
What's the one thing that if time and money were no object, you'd most like to create?
"Hmm … probably a life-sized edible version of the witch's cottage from Hansel and Gretel! It would only be good for a couple days, but they would be the best days of my life!"
What have you got planned for Halloween this year?
"I've got a lot planned. Last year I was working non-stop on my book and didn't really get to share much online. But I will say this: it's going to be an exciting month, photography and baking-wise."
What was your best ever Halloween outfit? Did you bake anything to match it?
"I made a photo-story with Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf. Costumes and baking were involved and it's my favourite combination of the two I've done so far. My second choice would be when I combined The Stepford Wives with Gremlins. I posted that a few months ago and the whole process was a crack up."
Are you incredibly popular with the kids trick or treating in your neighbourhood?
"I usually decorate my parents' house for Halloween and go there to hand out candy. They live in a really cool old spooky house and the neighbours have come to expect it to be completely done up for every holiday. I love when the smaller children are too afraid to come up to the door … that's when I know I've done something right."
The Gremlins cakes are cool. How did you come up with the idea for this? Are you planning on making any other retro horror films into cakes?
"Thank you! I've got a lot of fun things planned. I have new ideas nearly every day. I've made a cookie of the Facehugger from Aliens, but want to next tackle the Xenomorph from the franchise. A photoshoot involving an airlock is imminent."
That sounds nicely terrifying. What's a quick and easy tip for readers to make a scary snack for Halloween?
"Fangs! You can put them on almost anything using royal icing, modelling chocolate or whatever works for you. They're easy and, if done well, can transform even the most innocent treat into nightmare-fuel."