Thankfully not everything on our Ghostbusters cart requires pastry-making skills or a sweet tooth, the former of which I don’t claim to have at all. In addition to being the most visually impressive item on the cart, it’s also the easiest thing to put together. We’re lucky in Toronto to have such a bustling Chinatown with many fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, although nowadays you can also find a small selection of more exotic fruits at well-stocked grocery stores. If all you have is your local grocery store to work with, you can still create something fun for Halloween using more readily available items and some inventive cutting.
To achieve the visual effect, we left some of the fruits listed below whole, with their seeds in and peels intact. If you want to be kinder to your guests, prepare the fruit to be more easily plucked and eaten from the platter, saving some of the trim for an inedible garnish.
This is what’s on our exotic fruit platter:
1 Dragon Fruit
1 Custard Apple
1 small bunch Black Seedless Grapes
1 Red Mango
1 small Cantaloupe
1 large Cortland Apple
Lemon Verbena or Mint, for garnish
Limes: Transform the limes into completely cheesy-looking lime flowers first by slicing off the top and bottom of each lime. One lime creates one lime flower. Going from end-to-end, cut two slices as thinly as possible without going through to the very bottom of the skin so that you have to two thin slices of lime joined together by a connecting piece of skin. The process is similar to creating a hasselback potato but instead of leaving the lime whole, you’re only aiming to get two slices per piece. Repeat the process for the entire lime. Spread each segment of lime flat, creating two petals that are joined at the base by the skin. Layer the other slices of lime on top in opposite directions to create a sort of lime flower. Using a sturdy toothpick or small skewer, pierce the pieces from the bottom to hold them all together, leaving a portion of the skewer coming through the top of the flower. Place a rambutan, strawberry or grape on the tip of the skewer to act as the centre of the flower.
Orange: Repeat the process above for creating lime flowers.
Mangosteens: These look their best when the fruit is peaking out from its fibrous, deep purple shell. With a sharp knife carefully cut around the centre, cutting through the shell but not through to the segments of fruit inside. Remove the bottom end of the shell, leaving the exposed fruit cradled inside the top-end where the stem is.
Dragon Fruit: Cut the lower half of the fruit off, leaving the top half available to act as the towering 55 Central Park West top of the platter. Either slice the bottom half into pieces or use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh. To get the most out of the fruit, use a melon baller to carefully remove the flesh from the top half of your centre piece, leaving behind an ornate empty shell.
Rambutans: Either cut them in half as you have for the mangosteens or peel them completely, leaving just the pale white orb of fruit behind. Be sure to leave a few whole so you and your guests can enjoy the spidery effects of their skins
Custard Apple: Using your hands, gently split the fruit into a few jagged pieces. Let your guests grab at the seeds with their fingers or give them a small spoon to take bits as they will be a bit difficult to access once covered in lime slime.
Papaya: Slice segments lengthwise, leaving the seeds in for optimum visual effect.
Black Seedless Grapes: Using scissors, clip a few small clusters from the bunch and arrange on the platter.
Red Mango: Slice on either side of the pit, giving yourself two equal fleshy pieces. Using a small knife score the fruit, slicing down to the skin but not through it, creating a diamond pattern. Invert the pieces so that the flesh now pops up into a porcupine-esque shape.
Cantaloupe: Slice into thin whole rounds, removing the seeds if you wish.
Strawberries: Slice some but leave most of them whole to garnish the platter.
Cortland Apple: Slice into pieces and brush with citric acid solution (I used Bernardin’s Fruit Fresh) to keep from browning.