Midnight Jack

By 03/19/2021July 12th, 2021No Comments

Shapes and shadows in the night, is that a jack-o-lantern smiling bright? A classic smoky cheddar cheeseball formed around a mason jar and lit with a battery tealight is sure to light up your cheese board and impress your guests this Halloween. This idea emerged as a fun update to my Midnight Jack recipe from Castellon’s Kitchen and to my surprise, turned out so great! Often times, I get an idea and it goes through many revisions in the kitchen, and ultimately becomes something quite different from my original idea. But this time, the idea turned out exactly as I imagined. That’s not to imply that I made it once and it was perfect. Oh nooo! The recipe is great so I didn’t change any of the ingredients. I only switched the order they are put together since my food processor couldn’t handle all those cheeses in one spin. The real work was in how to put it together to make it light up. I made it a few times to work out the kinks in the assembly. By kinks, I mean the poppy seeds…those damn things went EVERYWHERE I didn’t want them to go.  They filled up the jack-o-lantern face no matter what I did…it was a hot mess. And trying to remove all those little seeds after the fact was futile. So, I worked out a way to prevent them from dimming the magic of my Midnight Jack. Check out the how to below and Enjoy!

Midnight Jack

There's magic in the night when pumpkins glow with candlelight. Carve out a good time with this light-up jack-o-lantern cheeseball.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Halloween Food
Keyword: charcuterie, cheese board, cheeseball, fruit, Halloween, Halloween Food, jack-o-lantern
Servings: 8


  • Food Processor
  • 8 oz. mason jar
  • battery operated tealight
  • 2 or 3 mini triangle cookie cutters for the eyes and nose, and 1 small crescent moon cookie cutter for the mouth.


  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 2 packages cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 mushroom stem (painted w/black food coloring)
  • assorted crackers and fruit


  • Add grated cheddar cheese, smoked paprika, dry mustard, coriander, and white pepper to food processor and blend until cheese looks like coarse sand. Transfer cheese into a large bowl.
  • Add the cream cheese and minced garlic to the food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer cream cheese mixture into cheddar cheese and mix until incorporated. Add a little bit of olive oil if cheese mixture is too dry, but use sparingly, as you want the cheese mixture to be sticky and firm and not too soft. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Remove the metal band on a clean 8 oz. mason jar but retain the metal lid. Place mason jar face down with lid on a long piece of plastic wrap.
    Note: Make sure to turn the jar so that the embossed writing on the jar is turned to one of the sides. You don't want the writing to show in your Jack-o-lantern when you light it up.
  • I had a jack-o-lantern cookie cutter from many moons ago, but you can substitute with any shape cookie cutter, like a crescent moon, or a round cookie cutter to make different expressions on your jack. After you've selected your cookie cutters, coat the outside of the cookie cutters with oil so they'll be easier to remove later.
  • Spread a layer of the cheese mixture to the top and a little way down the front of the mason jar using a spatula. Begin to place the cookie cutters on the glass to create your jack-o-lantern face, filling in around them with cheese mixture to hold them in place. Add the rest of the cheese mixture to build up your pumpkin, smoothing it as best you can with the spatula.
  • Gather up the plastic wrap around the cheeseball and use your hands to gently shape and smooth your jack. Add another piece of plastic wrap to wrap all sides. Refrigerate about an hour to firm up the cheese.
  • Remove from the fridge. Use wet cotton swabs to clean excess cheese mixture from the surface of the glass mason jar inside the cookie cutters.
  • Wet a paper towel and squeeze out extra water. Ball up small pieces of the wet paper towel and place them inside each of the cookie cutters. This is so that poppy seeds do not get inside the cookie cutters. Those little buggers get everywhere and you want the orange color to shine bright without seeds sticking to it.
  • Pour poppy seeds onto a medium plate and roll jack-o-lantern in them to coat the outside. Sprinkle seeds around the cookie cutters, using your fingers to gently press the poopy seeds around the cookie cutters to ensure coverage. After the first coat of seeds, spray outside of jack with cooking spray and roll in poppy seeds again.
  • To remove the cookie cutters, begin with the jack-o-lantern sitting upright with the mason jar lid down. Working top to bottom, starting with the eyes, wiggle and very gently remove the cookie cutters filled with paper towels. Repeat with the nose and then finally with the mouth, making sure to not pull too quickly. Refrigerate if your cheese gets too soft. Use a paring knife to do gentle clean up to remove any wayward poppy seeds.
  • Pull out long mushroom stem from it's cap and scrape down the sides of it with a fork to create a woody texture. Paint the mushroom stem with a small amount of black food coloring.
  • Add a battery operated tealight to the center of your serving platter or cheese plate. Remove the bottom lid from the mason jar and place the cheeseball over the tealight. Add the mushroom stem to the top of your Jack. Serve with crackers and fruit. Enjoy!


A fun update to my Midnight Jack recipe from Castellon's Kitchen.

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating