Saturday, 2 November 2013

Trick or treat

I love Halloween. Always have, always will. I think it comes at a great time of the year, right about the time that you realise that winter is here and there is no way out. I think of it as a little pocket of joy in an otherwise bleak month. Something to get excited about when it's that little bit too early to start stockpiling tins of Quality Street and Boots 3 for 2 gift sets that in reality no one actually uses. It’s way better than Valentine’s Day, which I like to think of as the holiday mirror to Halloween. Difference is Valentine’s Day was clearly invented by total losers, whereas Halloween rocks.

I love Halloween because it's by far the coolest of the holidays. It's got ghosts, devils, fake blood, vampires, dressing up, wigs, gross looking food, amazing movies, pranksters, glue, feathers AND it's the one time of year you can successfully use the hilarious "What have you come as ?" joke. Need I say more? Halloween…. you certainly are the whole package.

So what did I do to celebrate this most wonderful of days? Well, like most of the country I was working. However I’d had my decorations up for ages already and was planning on having a few chums over for some drinks the evening after. So all was definitely not lost.

I thought it would be fitting to prepare a few Halloween themed drinks and snacks for my guests to enjoy. Unfortunately though I had to scale down my usual OTT efforts (10 tonne pork pie, 15 thousand egg meringue, red velvet cheesecake from hell) because I now had a full time job. Yep, that’s right kids; someone actually pays to hang out with me all week (I am fully aware this isn’t what I am being paid for, but humour me). So with very little time on my hands I needed to wing it. I was going to go for style over substance, something that looked good. I’m all about the glory and besides if the drinks were strong enough everything would taste ok, riggghhhttt?? 

In a moment of panic I was tempted to just die a load of stuff green. It was quick, simple and would look gross, so ticked all of the boxes. Then my stupid competitive nature got the better of me, so I made a bunch of spooky stuff, some of which must have tasted ok, well nobody died. Here’s the recipe, hope you all had a happy Halloween.

Spooky red velvet and marshamallow ghost cupcakes
Makes 12

For the cupcakes:
 250g plain flour
 2 tbsp cocoa
 2 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp of soda
 100g butter, softened
 200g caster sugar
 1 tbsp red food colouring
 1 tsp vanilla paste
 2 large eggs
 175ml buttermilk
 1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the "malloween" frosting (see what I did there)
4 large egg whites
200g sugar
4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Small ball of black icing

1. Put the flour, cocoa, bicarb and baking power in a bowl. Pour the buttermilk and vinegar into a jug. Beat the soft butter and sugar with electric mixers until pale and fluffy, add the vanilla and food colouring and beat in. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients until smooth, then add an egg, beat until smooth, 1/3 dry…you guessed it, until smooth, the final egg, beat until smooth then add the last of the dry stuff, beat again. Pour in the vinegary milk and beat again until you have a mixture that looks like it belongs to red nose day, lovely.

2. Divide between 12 muffin cases and bake for 22 minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.  Make the icing. Whisk (with electronic mixers) the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water for 3-4 minutes, remove then beat off the heat for 7 minutes, until you have stiff glassy peaks. Transfer to an icing bag and pipe on gohsly swirls. Dot on black eyes.

All the other food is pretty self explanatory.

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