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A SCARE AT TEA TIME...

The spooky season is upon us and ghouls and goblins around the land will be working up monster appetites as they make their annual pilgrimage to neighbouring houses. So, with this in mind, we asked the experts for their advice on what to feed weary witches after their Halloween haul has been exhausted.

Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House has come up with two scary treats which are easy to cook and probably even easier to make disappear.

Spider web cookies (below)

Ingredients

175g/6oz softened butter

175g/6oz light brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

350g/12oz plain flour

1 rounded tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

110g/4oz mixed chocolate chips

110g/4oz mixed nuts (pistachio, walnuts, shelled hazelnuts, pine nuts etc)

100g melted chocolate

Method

Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and incorporate in the mixture.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture then add the salt and beat slowly until the mixture comes together to form a dough.

In a separate bowl mix the nuts and chocolate chips then add these to the dough mixture, remove from the bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes before rolling into a long cylinder shape, approx 5cm diameter. Break some of the dough into small balls and place on a lined baking tray.

Bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated oven (180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4).

Allow to cool down and then drizzle some dark, white or milk chocolate over the cookies in a circular fashion, dragging a cocktail stick or similar through the chocolate to create a web effect.

Spooky meringue fingers (right)

Ingredients

6 egg whites

350g/12oz caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp cornflour

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Almond flakes (one per finger)

Method

Preheat oven to 120°C/240°F/Gas mark 1/2.

Put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl, then use an electric whisk on full power until the egg whites are stiffly beaten.

Turn the speed of the mixer down and slowly add the sugar, a little at a time.

When all the sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla essence, cornflour and vinegar and give one final whisk on high speed. When ready, the mixture should be glossy and when the bowl is turned upside down the mixture should remain stationary in the bowl.

Using a piping bag, pipe finger-sized lengths of meringue on to some parchment paper.

Use some almond flakes as fingernails

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the meringue mixture is very firm.

I normally leave mine to cool in the oven with the door ajar.

Blood effect sauce

Raspberry coulis:

50g raspberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

5g icing sugar

Method

Blitz the ingredients together and then dip the meringue fingers into it!

See www.dunbrodyhouse.com, tel: 051 389 600

TV presenter and food blogger Donal Skehan has prepared a batch of 'mummy cakes' which are the perfect solution to feed your mini-monsters.

blood red mummy cupcakes (right)

(Makes 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients

90g butter

225g caster sugar

2 medium free-range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp good quality of cocoa powder

225g plain flour

180ml buttermilk

2 tbsp red food colouring

1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp white wine vinegar

icing

90g icing sugar

1 tsp red food colouring

1/2 pack of ready-to-roll icing

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C, put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix through the vanilla extract. Sift the cocoa powder and flour into a bowl and then mix thoroughly into the batter in three batches alternating with the buttermilk until you are left with a smooth mix. Mix through the red food colouring.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar and then stir through the red batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cases. Bake for around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water and the remaining red food colouring until you have a smooth icing. Spread over the cupcakes and place three Smarties on each for the eyes and nose.

Roll out the fondant icing to 2mm in thickness and then cut out 1cm-wide strips the size of the cupcakes. Drape the fondant strips over the mummy's nose and then continue to pile on the strips to form the bandages. Leave space for the eyes, which you can give a quick brush with black food colouring for character!

See Donal's book Kitchen Hero: Great Food for Less or visit www.donalskehan.com


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