Chocolate Popcorn, Spooky Cakes, Pumpkin Soup and Pie-tatoes for Halloween
Food is such an integral part of every festival and Halloween is no exception. My memories of Halloween feature the Brownie Guide Fancy Dress Party for which we all had to carve a ‘Turnip’ lantern. There were no pumpkins in 1960s Scotland, so we used turnips/swedes, it was really hard work carving them and many a spoon was bent in the process.
At the party there would be large dishes of buttery mashed potato and others of peppery, mashed ‘neeps’ the inside of those turnip lanterns cooked and mashed! We also had ‘Treacle Scones’, girdle scones dangling on strings that you had to try to take a bite from as someone swung the string so you got covered in sticky treacle. That was soon washed off with the ‘Dookin’ for Apples’, the only way to be sure of getting your apple was to stick your head right down to the bottom of the bowl and bite hard into the apple, you got soaked but it worked. I always hated it when, at some parties, they made you drop forks into the bowl, it was not nearly as effective.
There were none of the fancy themed sweets and cakes to be bought in the shops, but I think it is much more fun to make your Halloween treats at home.
Chocolate Popcorn Triangles are a really fun and simple treat to make with your kids, you don’t really need a recipe, just melt some chocolate in a bowl over a pan of just simmering water and add ready made popcorn until it is all covered in chocolate, then press it into a brownie pan lined with non stick paper and place in the fridge until set. I decorated mine with some lines of white chocolate. I have a neat little trick for melting chocolate for piping (see below).
All you do it put your chocolate, I used Hadleigh Maid white chocolate buttons, into a disposable piping bag, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the chocolate has melted, then snip off the end of the bag and pipe lines over the chocolate popcorn in lines. Leave to set in the fridge again, then once set, cut into squares or triangles.
For some rather more spooky cakes, a Halloween themed silicon cake mould is ideal for a bit of impact, especially if you top them with chocolate set in the same moulds.
I coloured white chocolate with orange food colouring to make the pumkin colour and it wasn’t too difficult to make the two coloured witchy pumpkin with milk chocolate for the hat.
Spooky Halloween Cakes
175g Flora Buttery
175g golden caster sugar
300g self raising flour, sieved
3 medium eggs
5 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
100g cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, mashed
zest of an orange
150g white chocolate
100g milk chocolate
orange food gel
Spooky silicon cake mould and 6 muffin cases in a muffin tray (if no cake mould then 12 muffin cases)
1. Place the muffin cases into a muffin tray.
2. Place the first five ingredients in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.
3. Stir in pumpkin mash and orange zest and divide between the paper cases.
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200C, 180C (fan), Gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes.
Leave the cakes to cook and then unmould. The shapes don’t come out too well with the soft sponge cake but they are the perfect shape to top with the chocolate shapes.
It’s not just sweet treats that are needed at Halloween. You need something warm to eat before going out trick or treating. Knorr have some great recipes which will hit the spot, how about a bowl of warming Pumpkin and Butterbean Broth from a recipe created by Marco Pierre White? Or the perfect individual ‘Sheperd’s Pie-tatoes’ a variation on Marco’s Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd’s Pie-tatoes (or Shepherd’s Potato Pies)
makes 8 Pie-tatoes
4 large baking potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
500g minced lamb
10g plain flour
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp tomato puree
1 Knorr Beef Stock Pot
1 sprig of thyme
1/4 of a pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
Butter, milk and 1 egg yolk, (optional) for the mash
Bake the potatoes until tender (I did mine in the microwave first, then finished them off in the oven to get a crispy skin) Cut the potatoes in half while still warm, scoop out the baked potato and mash with the butter, milk and egg yolk
1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add in the onion and garlic and fry, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until lightly coloured.
3. Once the water has been cooked off, the lamb should crackle as the fat renders. Add the carrot and pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the flour and work it in thoroughly. Season with Worcestershire sauce and mix in. Add in the Knorr Beef Stock Pot, pour in the water and add in the thyme.
4. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
6. Fill the scooped out potato halves with the mince, then top roughly with the mashed potato.