Kitchen Capers

Ghoulish Treats

by Caroline Mili Artiss Photography Caroline on Mon, October 31, 2011

Halloween has come and gone but this doesn't mean you can't play around with these fun ghoulish recipes! They're especially perfect if you have kids. Caroline, the star of one of our upcoming cooking shows shares some of her favourite creepy munchies...

Creepy fun in the kitchen!

The last few years have seen a big change to celebrating Halloween here in the UK. It was once seen as just an American gimmick and you could hardly find a good witches hat anywhere. Now walking into my local supermarket we have crepe spiders hanging from the ceiling and a huge variety of spooky Halloween items to choose from! You wouldn’t think us Brit’s hated Halloween anymore, in fact we have embraced it, not quite as much as our American friends but still as much as our British reserve can handle.

Halloween is an ancient festival which came about as a way to mark the evening before 'All Hallows Day' or 'All Souls Day', a Christian remembrance of loved ones who have passed into the after life.

Having a child I just can’t help but get a tad excited at the thought of being able to spend a day playing in the kitchen with lot’s of naughty baked goodies and sweeties and trying to think of disgusting names for new recipes. I must say it is rather good fun and it really brings you back to being just a big kid and letting your imagination run wild.

The carved pumpkin - or Jack o'Lantern - is the most obvious symbol of Halloween and originates in Ireland.

Trick or Treating, though most common in the US, actually has its origins in Irish tradition also. The ancient practice of 'guising' or going door to door to collect provisions and money was an Irish peasant tradition. This would be why my father would never let us go trick or treating when we were growing up as children in London. He thought it was outrageous to knock on people’s doors and ask for things, he was very British!

Masks and costumes were incorporated by the Celts to ward off the evil spirits of winter

Creepy Cookies
Makes 30

These are fun to make and decorate especially if you have kids in the kitchen.

250g / 2 cups plain flour
100g / ½ cup brown sugar
4 tbsp / ¼ cup / 60 ml golden syrup
75g cold butter cubed
1 large egg
2 ½ tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder

Ready to roll Fondant icing and any cool Halloween decorations you like!
Food colouring
Fine paintbrush
Tubes of coloured icing

Preheat oven to 180C. Sieve the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and then rub in the butter with your fingertips until you have fine breadcrumbs. In a separate small jug or bowl, whisk together the syrup and egg, then pour into the flour mixture. Combine the ingredients until it starts to form a ball of dough. Wrap it in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and once your dough has chilled you can start rolling it out. Roll it gently until it’s quite thin about ½ cm thick. Now you can cut out whatever shapes you like! Place the cookies onto a lined baking tray and pop into your pre-heated oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once the cookies are cool you can start icing them. I use ready to roll icing, which you can get in all different colours, or if you can only find white then just use food colouring and a paintbrush to colour them in however you like. You can find just so many decorating items in the shops these days so go crazy and get creative with whatever cool icing decorations you can get your hands on!

Vampire Jelly Pumpkins

These nasty looking treats are perfect for a Vampire inspired Halloween Party. You can never be too old for a bit of Jelly and they look so effective, yet they are dead easy to make.

1 small packet of strawberry jelly (135g)
1 small packet of lime jelly (135g)
2 pints of water / 1140ml

8 blood oranges (or normal if you can’t get blood oranges)

Jelly sweets

You will need to start this the day before! Make the jelly up and leave to chill and set in the fridge over night. To make jelly all you have to do is cut it into small pieces, pour ½ pint of hot water on, keep stirring until it all dissolves then add the remaining ½ pint of water. Put in the fridge to set. Make the red and green jelly separately so then you can either mix it together later or just make 4 red and 4 green pumpkins. It’s up to you!

Once the jelly has set, you can start to carve out your oranges. Slice the top off, scoop out all the inside flesh and leave in a separate bowl to use later. If you cut the orange flesh into chunks you can put it in the jelly mix later on.

Draw 2 eyes and a mouth with fangs on your oranges and carefully cut out using a knife. Mash up your jelly and mix together to make a disgusting looking colour. Fill your oranges up with jelly, left over pieces of orange and sweets until they are overflowing. To make a more dramatic effect, use fake blood or red food colouring and paint around the fangs and mouth.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 large cupcakes

Perfect for a Vampire Diaries night in!!


Cake mixture:
1 ¾ cups / 200g cups plain flour
¾ stick / 75g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup / 200g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons red food coloring
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup / 170ml buttermilk
¾ tsp red wine vinegar
¾ teaspoons baking soda

Icing / Frosting:
200g / 8oz cream cheese,
¾ stick / 75g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar / icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Place muffin cases in the muffin tray ready for later.

To make the cakes start by beating the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixture if you have one. If not just use a wooden spoon. Keep beating until the butter has turned a paler shade and is light and fluffy looking. This will take about 5 minutes! Then add the eggs a little bit a time, making sure all the egg is incorporated before you add the next bit. Next in a separate bowl, mix together the red food colouring, cocoa powder and vanilla. If it seems too thick just add a little more food colouring or water and mix into a smooth paste. Then add it to your batter and beat well.

Next, add the salt to the buttermilk and pour a 1/3 of it into the batter. Sift a 1/3 of the flour into the batter and mix in gently. Keep addingthe buttermilk and flour in thirds until it is all mixed in.

In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and vinegar then add staright away to the batter and mix everything in well until the batter is smooth.

Now you can fill up your muffin cases and pop them in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until cooked.

To test it they are cooked poke a thin skewer thorugh a cake and if it comes out clean, without any gooey batter on it it’s cooked! Leave them to cool in the tin for about an hour then you can take out and leave on a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting:

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, then add the vanilla and beat. Add the icing sugar a cup at a time and beat until smooth. You can make this icing in advance and keep it in the fridge. This will also help it to firm up.

Once the cakes have cooled down completely you can ice them!


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