Do you celebrate Halloween? We’re a kid-free household so it’s not at the top of our agenda on 31st October. That’s not to say we don’t get the neighbourhood kids knocking on our door expecting Halloween treats!
No one wants to be known as the local Scrooge (mixing my festivities there!). So everyone should have a selection of sweets to hand over to eager witches, warlocks, mummies and pumpkins… and their patient custodians.
- Halloween Chupa Chups (pack of 14): £1.00
- Pumpkin marshmallows in a bag, 180g: £7.50, Fortnum & Mason
- Halloween treats selection jar: £19.79, A Quarter of…
Peanut brittle is a fantastic, quick, easy, last-minute sweet party snack or Christmas gift idea. Just two or three fairly low-cost ingredients and about 10 minutes of your time.
Perhaps saying it is easy to make is a bit subjective. I’m not going to lie, I messed it up the first time. I made the fatal mistake of stirring the sugar when it was boiling – NEVER succumb to the temptation of fiddling with it as it approaches the hard crack stage. It causes the sugar to become grainy which doesn’t allow the brittle to develop properly. Also, keep an eye on it; don’t heat it too quickly or it could quickly overheat and burn.
The results, when it was done properly, were delicious. The added bicarbonate of soda gives it an airy texture – almost like a Crunchie bar – and makes it much easier on the teeth. The added butter is optional, but it gives it a glossy sheen and a richness of flavour. You can try this recipe with other kinds of nuts such as cashews, almonds, pistachios, macadamias and Brazil nuts – or a combination!
Pitta and hummus
- 1tbs instant dried yeast
- 350ml/12 fl oz lukewarm water
- 375g/13oz wholemeal bread flour
- 1tbs tahini
- ½tbsp olive oil
- 1 300g/10½ tin chickpeas
- 1 small clove garlic
- ½tbsp lemon juice
- ½tbsp sea salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
- pinch of smoked paprika or ground cumin (optional)
- few sprigs of coriander or flat leaf parsley (optional)
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- In a measuring jug, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour and form a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture
- Bring the flour and yeast mixture together to form a dough
- Leave the mixture to rest for 15 minutes before adding the olive oil and salt and mixing well again until the dough begins to stiffen
- Using the dough hook mix on a low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes) until smooth & elastic
- Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (at least an hour)
- - You can use this time to make the hummus -
- Once risen, preheat the oven to the highest setting, placing a knock back before dividing the dough in half
- Divide each half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece into a ovals around ½cm thick
- Layer & wrap the ovals loosely in a clean, damp tea towel preheat your oven to the highest setting and put a baking stone or griddle pan inside to heat up
- Carefully put 2-3 pitta ovals onto the stone/pan leaving space between each
- Bake for 3-5 minutes until the bread has puffed up like a balloon
- Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving
- Put the tahini & olive oil into a mini food processor and whiz for 30 seconds
- Rinse the chickpeas under cold running water and, if you have the patience, pinch the husks from each chickpea (it took me about 15 minutes); this gives the hummus a smoother consistency
- Add the chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice to the mini food processor and purée for 30 seconds
- Take the lid off the processor and scrape the mixture down off the sides and whiz again to remove any lumps. If the mixture is stiff, add a tablespoon of water and pulse for a few of seconds
- Add salt & pepper and adjust to taste
- Sprinkle with smoked paprika or ground cumin, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with coriander or flat leaf parsley and serve
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Plot toffee otherwise known as bonfire toffee is a traditional Yorkshire sweet eaten in the autumn around Halloween and – you guessed it – Bonfire Night!
It’s called Plot toffee after the Gunpowder Plot. It’s referred to by different names in different parts of the country; loshin du or taffi triog (Wales), Tom Trot (Yorkshire), claggum, clag or clack (Scotland).
Some recipes include a little milk and malt vinegar like this one I’m using from A Yorkshire Cookbook by Mary Hanson Moore. Others I have come across include ginger, cayenne pepper and even chilli powder.
Cakes & Bakes: Plot toffee
- 225g Demerara sugar
- 55g black treacle
- 55g butter
- 2tsp water
- 2tsp milk
- 2tsp malt vinegar
- Bring all the ingredients except the vinegar to the boil stirring constantly
- Boil gently for 15-20 minutes, still stirring, until the mixture becomes brittle when a small piece is dropped into cold water. Even better, if you have a jam thermometer the temperature needs to reach the hard crack stage of 149-154°C / 300-310°F
- Stir in the vinegar and then pour into a well-greased tin
- When nearly set, you can score it deeply into squares. Alternatively, allow to cool and give it a bash with a toffee hammer
- Store in an airtight jar or container
The first & last time I made fudge I was about 12 years old. The only way I could get it to set was to stick it in the freezer for a few hours. It wasn’t exactly inedible, but it was bad enough to put me off attempting it again until now.
Just like our taste in ice cream, Justin & I differ in our taste in fudge. He likes it plain, I like mine stuffed full of fruit, nuts, chocolate and alcohol! To please us both, I made a normal portion of basic mix, divided it into two and made one half into rum & raisin fudge.
I used the basic recipe I found on the Carnation website. I’m already thinking of folding some of this fudge into some of my home-made vanilla ice cream – what do you think?