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’s 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!
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You can try this recipe with other kinds of nuts such as cashews, almonds, pistachios and Brazil nuts
- 500g/17½oz caster sugar
- 3tbs water
- 50g/2oz butter (optional)
- 250g/9oz roasted peanuts
- 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
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- Line a large, shallow baking tray with greaseproof/parchment paper. You can grease the tray lightly to make the paper stick to it
- Pour the sugar into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan
- Turn the stove on to a medium-low heat, add the water and stir for about 30 seconds until the sugar has turned to a thick syrup
- Stop stirring
- Bring to the boil (still without stirring) allowing it to simmer for 5 minutes or, if you're using a candy thermometer, bring up to the hard crack stage of 146-154°C/295-309°F
- Turn off the heat, stir in the butter quickly
- Add the peanuts and stir in quickly
- Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir in quickly
- Pour carefully on to the prepared baking tray and allow to cool for about half an hour
- Break up into pieces using a toffee hammer or butt of a kitchen knife
- Store in an airtight container lined with greaseproof paper
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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’ve come across include ginger, cayenne pepper and even chilli powder.
- 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?