Bloody Fingers, Bats and Teeth….

Fingers

 

Halloween is approaching once again. It was not until I had children that I really started enjoying this celebration – and really – I only enjoy it because I get to cook funny looking things!

Last year I wrote a bit about the history of Halloween as well as posting quite a few recipes; a refresher below:

……I have learned that Halloween has ancient origins linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The name of the festival is derived from Old Irish which roughly translates to “summer’s end”. It served to celebrate the end of a good season of harvest of apples, pumpkins, spices and cider as well as a setting for supernatural encounters. The original Celtic holiday occurred on November 1, not October 31, and was one of the most important holidays for Celtic people, who believed that the spirits of those who had died over the course of the year would mingle with the living before traveling on to the afterlife. Festivals and celebrations were meant to aid the good souls on their way, and keep bad spirits from doing harm to the living.

Since that time, however, the holiday has grown and changed – fuelled largely by horror films such as Frankenstein and Dracula.

The carving of pumpkins, which is my absolute favourite part of Halloween, stems from Scotland and Ireland where they used to carve turnips as a symbol of remembering souls held in punishment. Immigrants to North America later discovered, and used, the pumpkin which was much larger and therefore easier to carve. Today it is used to open your home to little “trick or treaters” – if you leave a lit pumpkin on your front step they know they are welcome!

Chocolate Spiders

Sweet Pumpkin Loaf

Bat biscuits

Ghost Cupcakes

This year we have made a few different bits – the favourite ones (according to the children) were Bats, Fingers and Teeth! The recipes will follow below!

I hope you have a smashing Halloween and Half Term holiday and enjoy the time with your little ones.

Bloody Fingers (adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine)

This recipe will make 24 fingers

375g short crust pastry

Tomato puree – about 1 tbsp

24 blanched almonds

1 beaten egg or some cream

Grated parmesan – 1 tbsp full will do

  • Pre-heat your oven to 190C
  • Cut the short crust pastry into three rectangles; then cut each rectangle into eight fingers
  • Roll each pastry piece into the shape of a finger – do not fold the dough or roll it out as this will create “splitting” fingers! I.e. the fingers will open up when cooking.
  • Round the finger tips and use a sharp knife to score gentle lines across the middle for knuckles
  • Press your thumb into the top of each finger to make an indentation for the fingernails
  • Dot the tomato puree onto each indentation and press and almond onto each
  • Place all the fingers on a lined baking sheet
  • Brush with either beaten egg or cream
  • Sprinkle parmesan on top
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes – or until golden
  • Let them cool and enjoy!
  • They are great served with hummus, guacamole, pesto or tomato salsa

Marshmallow Bats

Simple and cute – makes 12 (ish)!

250g plain chocolate

12 marshmallows

Baking sheet and pencil

  • Melt 250g of dark chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer) in a bowl over simmering water. Do not let the chocolate overheat or it will go crumbly in texture
  • On a baking parchment sheet, draw the bat wings with a pencil (Google image them and print off a picture to trace if you are not the creative type) ensuring you link the wings with a circle (big enough for a marshmallow
  • Ensure the sheet is placed on a moveable surface as the bats will need to go in the fridge once made
  • Turn over the baking parchment – you should see the trace
  • Once the chocolate has melted fully remove it from the heat and let it cool down – this will probably take 10-15 minutes
  • Using a spoon (or piping bag if you prefer) fill the wings and centre “blob” on the parchment with chocolate. make sure you make a relatively thick coating to ensure the bat wings do not break when you need to remove them later
  • Dip your marshmallows in the chocolate and place one marshmallow, as the bat’s body, on the centre blob of every wing set
  • Continue until you have finished the chocolate and marshmallows
  • Place the bats in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  • Once completely dry, decorate the face with icing pens and sprinkles (for eyes)

Bat

Wobbly Teeth – surprisingly tasty (Sainsbury’s magazine)

Apples

Thick honey (or toffee sauce)

Mini marshmallows

  • Slice your apples into wedges – making the bottom wedges very flat to allow them to sit easily on a platter or plate
  • Put some thick honey (or toffee sauce) on each wedge
  • Place the mini marshmallows on the flat wedge, into the honey, and lay an apple wedge on top
  • Enjoy!

Teeth

 

Cookie Christmas Tree

Have I mentioned how much I love baking? Probably a thousand times…I just do though. It is a great way to spend time together, the house smells wonderful afterwards and especially at Christmas time there is something slightly magical about it. Maybe the shapes…stars, trees, snow flakes…love, love love it!

Anyway, enough of my blabber, yesterday’s advent “togetherness” activity in our house was making a Cookie Christmas Tree. By the time we had gotten back from school, made the dough, left it to chill for a bit (while we watched a short episode of a daily Advent Calendar series from Denmark – thank you Katrine for highlighting and reminding me!) and baked them it was too late to decorate! We therefore did the decorating this morning and ate it as part of pudding with friends for lunch! Was great!

The dough is quick and simple, has few ingredients, and can be used to make any shape you like. I have used it for years, not sure where I got it from, but the idea for the Christmas Cookie Tree came from a picture I saw in a Sainsburys catalogue a few weeks ago.

450g plain flour
225g butter – softened
225g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
Icing sugar, silver balls, edible glitter and food colouring to decorate
  • Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs (bit of a strange description but not sure how else to explain!)

As you can see it is a very serious exercise that requires not only deep concentration but preferably an army apron as well as penguin chefs hat?! 

  • Add the caster sugar and keep cutting into it to combine

  • Crack the egg into the mixture, as well as adding the vanilla essence – this is when the dough will start to come together

  • Your hands now need (quite a nice necessity actually!) to go into the dough in order that the warmth from them make the butter soften. The floury mixture quickly becomes a smooth dough ball….so so tempting to eat! It will, one day, be added to ice cream I think…hmmm. The children loved this bit…

  • Once combined, and tasted (!), wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for about half an hour to chill – this will make it easier to roll out and use. Less sticking to the work surface!

  • Once chilled, preheat oven to 190C and then use different sized star cookie cutters to cut out as many star shapes as you can. We ended up with 8 big, 8 medium, 8 small and 6 tiny ones… It is important you have different sizes or it will not end up looking like a tree when you layer the cookies…

  • Place cookies in the pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. If you leave them longer they will be slightly darker and more crisp – which you may prefer – up to you!
  • Let cool on wire racks and once completely cool you can make the Christmas Tree.
  • Mix icing sugar with a bit of water and food colouring of your choice. We used green for the main tree stars and yellow for the tiny ones we put on top.
  • Using wooden sticks as tools, let your children colour the stars. Once iced, layer them starting with the biggest stars and working your way to the smaller ones as you ascend the tree. Also lay them so that they are slightly off centre – see picture – all the way to the top.

  • Once done – dust with icing sugar and decorate….
  • Use as centre piece on the table or just eat! We did both!

Christmas Feeling is definitely growing here….every day getting a bit closer…are you feeling it?