Tuesday 23 October 2018

From eyeball cookies to Jack-O'-Lantern cupcakes - the best spookalicious treats for Halloween

 

Eyeballs
Eyeballs
Jack-O'-lantern cupcakes
Wizard hats
Toffee apples
Fingers
Halloween Treats

What could be more delicious for Halloween than wickedly good, creepy cakes, or ghoulish treats you can make with the family? Get into the spirit with recipes from expert baker Annie Rigg

Jack-O'-lantern cupcakes

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Jack-O'-lantern cupcakes
 

Make a gathering of these little carved pumpkin-shaped cakes and scatter them around the room for your Halloween party. Look for orange, green or black paper cases and Halloween sprinkles to decorate the serving dish. Makes 12

Ingredients

1 quantity vanilla cake mixture

1 quantity meringue buttercream

Black food colouring paste

Orange food colouring paste

Orange sanding sugar

Green jelly beans or fruity pastilles, for the stalks

Halloween sprinkles (optional), to decorate the serving dish

12-hole muffin tin, lined with white paper cases

small piping bag, fitted with a small star nozzle/tip

For the vanilla cake:

225g butter, soft

225g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

225g self-raising flour

2 tbsp milk

For the meringue buttercream:

200g/1 cup caster sugar

3 egg whites

250g butter, soft and diced

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Make and bake the vanilla cake cupcakes (see below). Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

Make the meringue buttercream (see below). Put in a bowl, take out 6 tablespoons and transfer to a separate bowl. Tint this quantity black using the food colouring paste. Colour the remaining, large bowl of buttercream, orange. Spread the orange buttercream over the cold cupcakes, spreading evenly with a palette knife. Using the blunt end of a knife or a wooden skewer, make indents in the buttercream to resemble ridges in the pumpkins. Scatter orange sanding sugar over the buttercream until evenly coated.

Fill the piping bag with the black buttercream. Pipe eyes, a nose and a mouth onto the orange frosting to make jack-o'-lantern faces. Lay the cupcakes on their side and stick one green jelly bean into the top of each cupcake to make the stalks. Scatter the serving dish with Halloween sugar sprinkles, if using, and arrange the cupcakes on top to serve.

Vanilla cake cupcakes

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light - about 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Sift the flour into the cake mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the milk and mix until smooth. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

Meringue buttercream

To make the meringue buttercream, put the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk slowly with a balloon whisk until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture starts to thicken and turn white and it reaches 60°C/140°F on a sugar thermometer - about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk with an electric whisk on medium speed for another 3 minutes or until cold, very thick and glossy white. Gradually add the diced butter, beating constantly until the butter has been incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Fold in the vanilla extract.

Eyeball cookies

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Eyeballs
 

You might have made thumbprint cookies before - little discs of dough with a thumbprint indent filled with jam or similar - but have you ever made them like this? If you prefer, you can buy ready-made sugar eyes from cake decorating suppliers.

Makes 24

Ingredients

100g butter, soft

50g crunchy peanut butter

100g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

150g plain flour

A pinch of salt

To decorate:

50g white ready-to-roll royal icing

Blue, green and red food colouring pastes

300g white chocolate, chopped

24 brown candy-coated chocolate drops

Baking sheet, lined with nonstick baking parchment

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Put the butter, peanut butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light - 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Tip the flour and salt into the bowl and mix again until smooth.

Pull off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls between your hands. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Press your finger into the top of each cookie to make an indent. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until golden and firm. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

To decorate, divide the royal icing in half. Tint one portion bright blue by dipping a cocktail stick into the colouring and applying it to the royal icing. Knead it in until the icing is brightly and evenly coloured. Repeat with the other icing using the green colouring paste. Divide the blue icing into 12 equal portions, roll into balls and flatten into discs. Repeat with the green icing. Cover them all with clingfilm and set aside.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Stir until smooth, then allow to cool and thicken slightly.

Taking one cookie at a time, dip the top into the melted chocolate and place on a wire rack.

Position either a blue or green icing disc in the dent in the middle of the cookie. Dip one side of a chocolate drop in the melted chocolate, then position on the icing disc.

Dip a cocktail stick into the red food colouring paste and wiggle red, veiny lines across the white chocolate. Allow to set before serving.

Wizards' hats cakes

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Wizard hats
 

The cupcakes and chocolate-coated cones for these hats can be prepared in advance and assembled on the day of your party. Try to find a good selection of ghoulish treats and sweets to fill the cones with.

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 quantity red velvet mixture (see below)

300g dark chocolate, chopped

18-20 ice-cream cones, edible silver balls to decorate

150g dark chocolate, chopped

1 quantity meringue buttercream (see above)

Assorted sprinkles

Assorted sweets

12-hole muffin tins, lined with foil cases

For the red velvet cake:

175g butter, soft

250g caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Half tsp red food colouring paste

125ml buttermilk, at room temperature

175g plain flour

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

A pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp white vinegar

Black food colouring paste

Edible glitter

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light - 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time.

Mix the red food colouring with the buttermilk until evenly coloured. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the cake mixture in alternate batches with the red buttermilk and mix until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar, then quickly add to the cake mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

Melt the 300g dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl either in the microwave on a low setting or over a pan of barely simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Stir until smooth.

Hold an ice-cream cone over the bowl of chocolate and pour the melted chocolate over with a spoon until the cone is evenly coated, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.

Scatter with edible silver balls, then stand the hats upright on a tray and allow to set.

To decorate, melt the 150g dark chocolate in a bowl as above. Allow to cool until almost cold.

Meanwhile, prepare the meringue buttercream. Add the cooled, melted chocolate once all the butter has been incorporated.

Cover the top of each cupcake with a swirl of chocolate meringue buttercream and scatter assorted sprinkles over the top.

Fill the chocolate-coated ice-cream cones with sweets and stick one on top of each cupcake.

Severed fingers

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Fingers
 

These cookies look super life-like and can be made more spooky if you paint some red food colouring around the base of each finger after baking. You could also put candy rings on the fingers and paint the fingernails in assorted (edible) colours.

Makes about 24

Ingredients

125g butter, soft

25g caster sugar

100g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

275g plain flour

Half a tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

20 whole almonds, halved (this allows for breakages)

Baking sheet, lined with nonstick baking parchment

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Put the butter and both sugars in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light - 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix again until smooth.

Break off small balls of dough and roll between your hands to make sausage shapes. Roll them no thicker than your own fingers. A good way to get a realistic finger effect is to splay your fingers when you roll your hand over the sausage of dough - you should get a bumpy outline to represent knuckles.

Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Press half an almond, flat side up, onto the end of each finger as a fingernail and use a round-bladed knife to mark ridges on each knucklebone. Bake in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until pale, golden and firm. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold. Serve in individual boxes for an extra spooky surprise.

Toffee apples

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Toffee apples
 

Makes 8

Ingredients

8 small apples, eg Cox's, Jazz, Macoun or Pink Lady

300g caster sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

Juice of half a lemon to decorate

Assorted orange, green and black sprinkles, for dipping

8 lolly sticks or wooden skewers

Method

Wash and thoroughly dry each apple. Carefully push a lolly stick or wooden skewer into the stalk end of each apple.

Put the sugar, syrup and 150ml water in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Leave until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Turn up the heat and simmer until the toffee turns an amber colour.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the lemon juice - take care as the hot toffee may splutter.

To decorate, quickly dip each apple into the toffee and swirl it around until evenly coated.

Allow to cool for no more than 10 seconds, then dip the bottoms of the apples in the assorted sprinkles.

Sit the apples on baking parchment to harden. Serve on the same day.

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