Halloween is great for us foodies, not least because it’s acceptable to traipse from house to house asking for tasty treats. Autumn is one of the best seasons for ingredients and hearty, warming dishes. Whether you’ll be celebrating Halloween with a bucket-load of sugar or fancy a slightly more grown-up affair, we’ve got you covered with the following seasonal goodies.
Spooky Spider Cookies
For an easy Halloween bake that can be adapted to suit all abilities, try these adorable, super-simple spider cookies. You can bake the cookies yourself using the method below, or if you want to make this as easy as possible, buy your favourite cookies and just decorate them.
What you’ll need
For the cookies:
150g softened salted butter
80g light brown muscovado sugar
80g granulated sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
200g chocolate chips
For the toppings:
Approx. 50g dark chocolate
60 white chocolate chips
3tbsp icing sugar
Baking the cookies
If you’re baking the cookies yourself, preheat the oven to 190C and line two baking trays.
Beat together the sugars and butter in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, then sieve in the flour, bicarb and salt. Mix well, and add the chocolate chips. Make sure the chips are distributed evenly.
Use a spoon to transfer small blobs of the mixture to the baking trays. Spread them out as much as possible, as the cookies will grow quite a bit when they bake. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be ready when the edges are light brown and the centres slightly soft.
Decorating your cookies
Once your cookies have cooled, melt a small amount of chocolate in a jug over heating water. The chocolate will be the glue that holds your spider together.
First: the eyes. Lay your 60 white chocolate chips flat on a plate. Dip a toothpick into the melted chocolate and dab small blobs onto each chocolate chip to make a pupil. Set the eyes aside to dry.
Now you’ll need to attach the spider’s body to the cookie. Dip two Maltesers into the melted chocolate (try to just dip a small part of the Malteser, otherwise things might get a bit messy) and stick them onto a cookie – you might need to hold them in place for a few seconds.
When all the Maltesers are in place, you can stick the eyes on. Use another trusty toothpick to dab two small blobs of melted chocolate onto the front of a spider, then quickly and carefully stick your eyes on. They don’t need to be perfectly positioned, but aim to put the blobs at the top of the Malteser so the chocolate chip eyes can’t easily slide down.
Now all that’s missing is the legs. Melt a little bit more chocolate and mix in a tablespoon of icing sugar at a time, to stiffen it slightly. Spoon the icing into a piping bag, then pipe long straight lines from the Maltesers to the edge of the cookies. Leave them to set for an hour or so, and voilà, you have a batch of spooky spider cookies.
Vegan/vegetarian Halloween pumpkin bowl – warm roasted vegetable salad
According to the Pumpkin Rescue campaign, 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin are thrown away in the UK every Halloween. Save your pumpkin from the scrapheap by turning it into this tasty and attractive salad. Nothing goes to waste in this recipe – even the serving bowl becomes a hearty winter vegetable soup.
2 red peppers
1 small edible pumpkin per guest (or a huge one to make one big bowl)
2 red onions
50 g pine nuts
small bag fresh spinach
tbsp olive oil
sprig of fresh thyme
soft goats’ cheese
Grill the red peppers whole, turning them every few minutes, until the skin turns black and starts to come away from the flesh. Then leave them to cool.
Cut the pumpkin in half widthways and hollow out the bottom half to make a bowl. Discard the seeds and stringy stuff, but keep the scraped-out pumpkin flesh.
Cut the top half into large chunks, cut off the skin, and then cut the pumpkin into 2 cm cubes. Peel the onions and cut them into chunks. Coat the vegetables in olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme, and roast at 190 °C for about 25 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, dry-fry the pine nuts and line the pumpkin bowl with spinach leaves. Peel the skin off the peppers, remove the seeds, and cut the flesh into chunks. Also cut the goats’ cheese into chunks.
Remove the roasted vegetables and mix with the peppers and pine nuts. Place carefully into the lined pumpkin bowl. For vegans, serve as is; for non-vegans top with the chunks of cheese or else mix the cheese in before putting the mixture into the bowl, to form a creamy sauce.
When you’ve finished eating, don’t throw away the pumpkin bowl – use it to make a winter vegetable soup. Pop it in the oven and roast if for about 40 minutes, along with the scraped-out flesh that you saved earlier. Let it cool and then peel the flesh away from the skin.
Fry the onions, parsnips and carrots, then add a tablespoon of coriander, a tablespoon of cumin and a pint of chicken stock.
Simmer until all the ingredients are soft, then blend and add a pint of milk. If you’re serving it immediately, heat the soup through thoroughly or if not, just allow to cool.