Price Points: Halloween Treats

Selection of Halloween treats | H is for Home

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.

  1. Halloween Chupa Chups (pack of 14): £1.00
  2. Pumpkin marshmallows in a bag, 180g: £7.50, Fortnum & Mason
  3. Halloween treats selection jar: £19.79, A Quarter of…

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut brittle

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Home made peanut brittle in a vintage Cathrineholm Lotus bowl with sprigs of holly and fir to decorate | H is for Home

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.

pouring peanut brittle on to a lined baking tray

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.

peanut brittle on to a lined baking tray

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
for the pitta
  1. 1tbs instant dried yeast
  2. 350ml/12 fl oz lukewarm water
  3. 375g/13oz wholemeal bread flour
for the hummus
  1. 1tbs tahini
  2. ½tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 300g/10½ tin chickpeas
  4. 1 small clove garlic
  5. ½tbsp lemon juice
  6. ½tbsp sea salt
  7. pinch of ground black pepper
  8. pinch of smoked paprika or ground cumin (optional)
  9. few sprigs of coriander or flat leaf parsley (optional)Pitta and hummus ingredients
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For the pitta
  1. In a measuring jug, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and form a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture
  3. Bring the flour and yeast mixture together to form a dough
  4. 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
  5. Using the dough hook mix on a low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes) until smooth & elastic
  6. Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (at least an hour)
  7. - You can use this time to make the hummus -
  8. Once risen, preheat the oven to the highest setting, placing a knock back before dividing the dough in half
  9. Divide each half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece into a ovals around ½cm thick
  10. 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
  11. Carefully put 2-3 pitta ovals onto the stone/pan leaving space between each
  12. Bake for 3-5 minutes until the bread has puffed up like a balloon
  13. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving
for the hummus
  1. Put the tahini & olive oil into a mini food processor and whiz for 30 seconds
  2. 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
  3. Add the chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice to the mini food processor and purée for 30 seconds
  4. 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
  5. Add salt & pepper and adjust to taste
  6. Sprinkle with smoked paprika or ground cumin, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with coriander or flat leaf parsley and serve
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Cakes & Bakes: Plot toffee

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Jar of home-made plot toffee | @hisforhome

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

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 300g

Cakes & Bakes: Plot toffee

Ingredients

  • 225g Demerara sugar
  • 55g black treacle
  • 55g butter
  • 2tsp water
  • 2tsp milk
  • 2tsp malt vinegar
  •  
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Instructions

  1. Bring all the ingredients except the vinegar to the boil stirring constantly
  2. 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
  3. Stir in the vinegar and then pour into a well-greased tin
  4. When nearly set, you can score it deeply into squares. Alternatively, allow to cool and give it a bash with a toffee hammer
  5. Store in an airtight jar or container
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Bookmarks: Cheesecake

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"Cheesecake" book by Hannah Miles with chocolate & ginger cheesecake and little jug of crème fraiche and squares of dark & white chocolate

Cheesecake by Hannah Miles (Masterchef 2007 finalist and a lawyer to boot!) arrived through the letterbox at a very opportune time – the eve of Justin’s birthday.

baklava cheesecake recipe

We’ve blogged about cheesecake before – in fact, it’s one of our most visited posts – there are a lot of cheesecake fans out there!

chilli chocolate cheesecake recipe

So we’re looking forward to sharing a load more varieties in this post.

berry sundae cheesecake recipe

Each double page spread presents you with a delicious cheesecake recipe on one side with beautifully styled and photographed image on the other.

valentine cheesecake recipe

The range of recipes in the book (there are 60 in all) spans mini-cakes, cake pops, baked cheesecake, no-bake cheesecakes, even cheesecakes with jelly on top!

whisky and raspberry cranachan cheesecake recipe

They’re divided up into chapters such as fruity cheesecakes, candy bar cheesecakes, party cheesecakes and around the world cheesecakes.

mini popcorn cheesecake recipe

There’s also a useful introduction that includes types of cheese you can use, troubleshooting (I’ve been asked in the past about how to stop cracks appearing – it’s covered here) and information about storing & freezing.

sticky toffee pudding cheesecake recipe

No great amount of equipment is needed for most of the recipes – usually just a 23cm/9-inch spring form cake tin. A few of them call for perhaps a silicone mat, piping bag & nozzle, push pops, chef’s rings, sugar thermometer or blow torch.

vanilla cheesecake recipe

Anyway, back to Justin’s birthday – cheesecake is his favourite kind of cake so I told him to choose a recipe from the book and I’d make it for his birthday. He decided on the chocolate ginger option.

"Cheesecake" book by Hannah Miles with ingredients to make a chocolate & ginger cheesecake

Chocolate Ginger Cheesecake

Yield: serves 12

Chocolate Ginger Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • For the crumb base
  • 300g/10½oz ginger biscuits/cookies
  • 150g/1¼ sticks butter, melted
  • For the filling
  • 650g/2¾-3 cups cream cheese
  • 600ml/2½ cups crème fraîche
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g/½ cup caster/white sugar
  • 200g/7oz dark chocolate, melted & cooled
  • 6 balls preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs ginger syrup (from the preserved stem ginger jar)
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2tbs plain/all-purpose flour, sifted
  • For the topping
  • 150g/5½oz white chocolate
  • 30g/1oz dark chocolate

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
  2. To make the crumb case, crush the biscuits/cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor or place in a clean, plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press the buttery crumbs into the base & sides of the prepared cake pan firmly using the back of a spoon. You need the crumbs to come up about 3-4cm/1½ inches high on the side of the pan so that they make a case for the filling. Wrap the outside of the pan in cling film/plastic wrap and place in a roasting pan half full with water, ensuring that the water is not so high as to spill out. Set aside.
  3. For the filling, whisk together the cream cheese, crème fraîche, eggs, sugar, melted chocolate, finely chopped ginger, syrup and chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Sift the flour over the mixture and stir in, then pour the mixture into the crumb case. Bake in the preheated oven for 1-1¼ hours until set but still with a slight wobble in the centre. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely in the oven, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
  4. Once chilled, melt the white and dark chocolate for the decoration in separate, heatproof bowls set over 2 pans of simmering water. Leave to cool slightly, then spread the white chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the cheesecake. Spoon the dark chocolate into the piping bag and pipe swirls over the top of the cheesecake in pretty patterns. If you don't have a piping bag, you can swirl patterns of the chocolate using a spoon. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set before serving.

Notes

Equipment:

23cm/9-inch spring form cake tin, greased & lined A piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle/tip (optional)

http://hisforhomeblog.com/bookmarks/bookmarks-cheesecake/

I felt a bit of pressure as I knew we’d be photographing the finished product as part of this post. I dreaded it ending up as one of these “Nailed it!” Pinterest pins! Fortunately it turned out well – we’ve just had a slice each with coffee.

slice of baked chocolate and ginger cheesecake with small cup of black coffee

Cheesecake is available from Ryland Peters & Small the publishers, Amazon and Hive.

[Many thanks to Ryland Peters & Small for this review copy]