These simple cheesecakes make a delicious dessert for a Halloween party. If you want to get ahead, assemble the cheesecake layers in the serving dishes and refrigerate them without the crumble topping, marshmallow ghosts and shortbread gravestones. Then, add the finishing touches just before serving to guarantee a perfectly spooky crunch.
First, make the fruit compôte. Place the berries, 100g of the caster sugar, and all the lemon zest and juice in a saucepan over a low-medium heat. Allow the sugar to fully dissolve, then increase the heat to medium. Let the berries bubble away for 15–20 minutes, until it's slightly thickened. Transfer the compôte to a bowl and set it aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate it until needed.
Make the shortbread. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Tip the flour, salt and cubes of butter into a large bowl, then rub the butter and flour between your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the remaining 60g of the caster sugar. Transfer half of the mixture to a clean worktop and knead it slightly to bring it together into a smooth ball. (Set aside the remainder in the bowl until needed.)
Lightly dust the worktop with flour and roll out the kneaded dough to a rough disc about 5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut out at least 4–6 gravestone shapes and crosses, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary (you'll need 1 biscuit per serving, but you can make extra to enjoy just as they are). Carefully transfer the shapes to the lined baking sheet, spacing them well apart, and bake them for 7–8 minutes, until golden. Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool on the sheet. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, make the crumble. Mix the cocoa powder into the crumble mixture left in the bowl, rubbing it in slightly so it's all incorporated. Tip the chocolatey crumble into a baking tray, spreading it out into an even layer. Transfer the baking tray to the hot oven and bake the crumble mixture for 5 minutes, then remove it and mix it up with a fork, shaking it back into an even layer. Return it to the oven for 5 more minutes, until dark and crisp, then remove it and mix it with a fork again. Set it aside to cool. (If you aren’t serving the cheesecakes straight away, the cooled crumble will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can use any leftovers sprinkled over ice-cream or yoghurt.)
Now make the cheesecake mixture. Tip the cream cheese and icing sugar into a bowl and, using a balloon whisk, beat them together for a couple of minutes until smooth and thick (the mixture may loosen up before it thickens again – just keep going until it's thick enough to hold soft peaks). Set aside.
In a separate bowl, using a clean balloon whisk, lightly whisk the double cream until it starts to just thicken, then use a spoon to fold it through the cream-cheese mixture until combined and smooth. Set aside.
Using the black icing pen, draw an outline around the edges of the cooled shortbreads and pipe words such as 'BOO!' and 'RIP' on the gravestone and cross shapes. Pipe two eyes and a mouth onto each of the marshmallows to make them look like little ghosts. Set the shortbreads and marshmallows aside for the icing to harden a little. Using the green icing pen, pipe leaves of grass at the bottom of each biscuit, if you wish. Set the biscuits aside again for the icing to harden a little. (If you aren't assembling the cheesecakes straight away, the shortbreads and marshmallows will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
To assemble the cheesecakes, place 2–3 tablespoons of the fruit compôte into the bottom of each serving glass or dish (you can refrigerate any remaining compôte in a sealed jar for about 1 week). Top each serving with the cheese mixture, levelling it out with the back of a spoon. At this point, if you're making ahead, you can cover the cheesecakes with foil and refrigerate them for up to 2 days.
Just before serving, sprinkle equal amounts of the chocolate crumble mixture over each cheesecake, then carefully push one decorated shortbread into each and add a marshmallow ghost to the side. Drizzle over some of the red juice from the leftover fruit compôte for extra gore, if you like. Serve immediately.