All Hallows’ Eve is the perfect time to let your inner child run wild. Whether it’s going on a bone chilling ghost walk in Pluckley, the most haunted village in England, or letting the cold nibble at your nose whilst taking your little witch or wizard Trick or Treating, Halloween is great for bringing family and friends together.
Here are my favourite Hallowe’en treats that are guaranteed to make you shriek in delight, leaving the growling to the ghouls, and not your stomach.
Pumpkins at Hallowe’en are a given. The tradition of carving faces into vegetable originates to Gaelic festival of Samhain, a time where our world and the world of Faeries coincide. In Ireland and Scotland, people would carve faces into turnips rather than pumpkins. Faces were carved into the vegetables to resemble goblins and ghouls, and placed on windowsills and near doorways to scare the more mischievous of faerie folk away.
Now, pumpkin carving is thought of as that messy task of hollowing out the flesh, and leaving the pumpkin to slowly rot on a shelf. A crime, if you ask me! There are so many great pumpkin recipes that you can put a spooky twist on that will keep your little monsters happy, and get them to take a break from all those Trick or Treat sweets. Here’s my recipe for Pumpkin Soup (or Pumpkin Potion, perhaps?) It’s perfect for Trick or Treating, since you can make it in advance and reheat it for when you get back in from the cold.
You’ll need a large pumpkin, 2 onions, 3 pints of chicken stock, a couple of garlic cloves, 125g of butter, a cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika and a merry slosh of sherry.
First, you need to hollow out your pumpkin. You need to get as much flesh of as possible, but try not to puncture the sides. I find a large metal spoon works best. This is also a great job for your little helpers to get involved with. Remember to keep the pumpkin husk for carving your terrifying Jack o’ Lanterns.
Put a large saucepan on the heat, and add a hearty amount of olive oil. Once hot add the chopped onions and garlic, fry until they’re soft and beginning to turn golden. Add in the pumpkin flesh, spices and salt and pepper. I find some freshly grated nutmeg adds a great flavour to the pumpkin. Cover and leave to happily fry away for 30 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally. Burnt pumpkin is one horror story that you want to avoid!
After half an hour, the pumpkin should be all nice and soft. Add in you stock, and bring the boil before taking it off the head. This next part can get a little messy. Either using a handheld blender or transferring batches of the mixture to a blender, blend the mixture until it’s a smooth, creamy soup. Transfer it back to the pan, add the sherry and put it on a medium heat again for further half hour without the lid.
Serve with a swirled spider-web of cold cream and some spooky stories!
TOFFEE ‘POISON’ APPLES
Hallowe’en isn’t complete without at least one sugar high. With these scrumptious, but frighteningly easy Toffee ‘Poison’ Apples, you’ll be a hit with Trick or Treaters (or you could just treat yourself!)
You’ll need 6 small apples, the more knobbly and misshapen the better, 200g of granulated sugar, 25g of butter, 120ml of golden syrup and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
Wash the apples and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours. This isn’t essential, but it will greatly help when getting the toffee to stick to the apple.
Put the sugar in a large, heavy-based saucepan with 100ml of cold water. Heat gently for 5 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. The best way to check for any remaining crystals is to use the back of a metal spoon.
Add in the vinegar, golden syrup and butter. Keeping it the mixture on a medium heat, bring up to gentle boil. Let it happily bubble away until the mixture is 127°C, use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature. This can take quite a while, up to half an hour, but be patient! Don’t be tempted to increase the heat as will cause the toffee to burn in an instant.
While you wait for your concoction to reach the correct temperature, start preparing the apples. You can use wooden lolly sticks or if you’re feeling extra witchy or wizard-y, you can use sticks from the garden. Make sure they’re clean and from a non-poisonous tree. Whittle the ends of the stick until you get a nice, sharp point. Push the stick into the stalk of the apple, making sure it’s firm and sturdy. Apple bobbing in melted toffee is not as fun as it sounds!
Remove the luscious caramel from the heat. This is now the perfect time to add in any extra special touches. For an Evil Step-Mother Apple, add in some natural red food colouring to give the toffee a wickedly sinful, blood red sheen. Or for a more grown-up flavour, add a little sea salt to make tantalising Salted Toffee Apples. Holding the stick of the first apple, dip the apple into the caramel and coat completely. I find a twirling turning action works best and ensures a lovely even coating of toffee around the apple.
Place the apple bottom side down on a greased and parchment covered baking tray, and leave over night to cool.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS THIS HALLOWE’EN? Why don’t you come and spend it with us?
It’s not just the kids that can have great time at Hallowe’en. All Hallows’ Eve can also be an excused for parents to have some fun too. Why come and enjoy some live music at the Pearson’s Arms or The Windmill in Hollingbourne, whilst sipping a refreshing ‘Potion’ cocktail?
Tuesday 28th October
Ben Russell Solo will be playing at the Pearson’s Arms,
Sunday 2nd November
Live music from ‘Dune’
Wednesday 29th October
Cultured Pearl will be playing
The perfect way to spend a grown-up Hallowe’en!