Scary bakes, ghoulish cakes

Sat, Oct 27, 2012, 01:00

Give your Halloween party a dash of style

Severed fingers

These cookies look super life-like and can be made more spooky if you paint some red food colouring around the base of each finger after baking. You could also put candy rings on the fingers and paint the fingernails in assorted (edible) colours. Makes about 24

125g butter, soft

25g caster sugar

100g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

275g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

20 whole almonds, halved (this allows for breakages)

You will need a baking sheet, lined with nonstick baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas 4. Put the butter and both sugars in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light Ÿ 3-4 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix again until smooth.

Break off small balls of dough and roll between your hands to make sausage shapes. Roll them no thicker than your own fingers. A good way to get a realistic finger effect is to splay your fingers when you roll your hand over the sausage of dough Ÿ you should get a bumpy outline to represent knuckles. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

Press half an almond, flat side up, onto the end of each finger as a fingernail and use a round-bladed knife to mark ridges on each knuckle bone. Bake in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until pale golden and firm. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for two to three minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold. Serve in individual boxes for an extra spooky surprise.

Toffee apples

Look for small, preferably red-skinned apples and red lolly sticks for these fun and popular toffee apples. When you buy the ingredients for this recipe, why not get some extra apples and at your party, fill a large tub with water, tip in the apples and play bobbing for apples.

8 small apples, eg Coxüs, Jazz, Macoun or Pink Lady. Makes 8

300g caster sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

juice of 1/2 lemon

To decorate: assorted orange, green and black sprinkles, for dipping

8 lolly sticks or wooden skewers

Wash and thoroughly dry each apple. Carefully push a lolly stick or wooden skewer into the stalk end of each apple.

Put the sugar, syrup and 150ml water in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Leave until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and simmer until the toffee turns an amber colour. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the lemon juice Ÿ take care as the hot toffee may splutter.

To decorate, quickly dip each apple into the toffee and swirl it around until evenly coated. Allow to cool for no more than 10 seconds, then dip the bottoms of the apples in the assorted sprinkles. Sit the apples on baking parchment to harden. Serve on the same day.

Ghoulish cake

These little ghost meringues can be made one or two days before you plan to serve this cake, as they will keep well in an airtight box. Itüs funny how each meringue seems to have a different expression by simply painting on some eyes.

Meringue

200g caster sugar

100g egg whites (from 3-4 eggs)

a pinch of salt

Chocolate cake

200g butter, soft

325g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

125g dark chocolate

300g plain flour

2 rounded tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

225ml sour cream, at room temperature

175ml boiling water

Meringue buttercream

200g caster sugar

3 egg whites

250g butter, soft and diced

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To decorate

100g dark chocolate, finely chopped

125ml double cream

1 tbsp light brown soft sugar

25g butter

black writing icing: piping bag, fitted with a one centimetre plain nozzle

baking sheet, lined with baking parchment

2 x 23-cm cake pans, greased and baselined with greased baking parchment

sugar thermometer

Serves 12

Make the meringue ghosts the day before you make the cake. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas 6.

Tip the sugar into a small roasting tray and heat on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about four minutes or until hot to the touch.

When the sugar is hot enough, remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 110 degrees/gas 1/4.

Put the egg whites and salt in a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until foamy. Quickly tip all the hot sugar into the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed for about six minutes until the meringue is very thick, super glossy and white. Spoon into the piping bag and pipe into slightly wobbly cone shapes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for one hour or until crisp. Turn the oven off and leave the ghosts to cool inside.

When you are ready to make the cake, preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas 4. To make the chocolate cake, put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until pale and light Ÿ three to four minutes. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the cake mixture and mix until combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add one third of the sifted dry ingredients to the cake mixture and mix on low speed until combined, then add one-third of the sour cream. Repeat this process until you have used up all the dry ingredients and sour cream. Add the boiling water and mix until silky smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake the cakes on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cake pans for three minutes before transferring to a wire rack until cold.

To make the meringue buttercream, put the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk slowly with a balloon whisk until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture starts to thicken and turn white and it reaches 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Farenheit on a sugar thermometer Ÿ about four minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk with an electric whisk on medium speed for another three minutes, or until cold, very thick and glossy white. Gradually add the diced butter, beating constantly until the butter has been incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Fold in the vanilla extract.

If the baked cakes are very domed, level them off with a large, serrated knife. Place one cake on a serving dish and spread meringue buttercream over the top. Lay the second cake on top and press gently together. Cover the whole cake with the remaining buttercream, spreading it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To decorate, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a small pan until boiling. Pour over the chocolate and allow to melt. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before spreading over the top of the cake and allowing to dribble over the sides. Use the black writing icing to give each of the ghosts eyes and arrange on top of the cake just before serving.


Taken from Halloween Treats with recipes by Annie Rigg, photography William Lingwood, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£9.99)