Halloween is an exciting time for many reasons. Inappropriate fancy dress, egging your neighbours or simply an excuse to get off with a guy while dressed as a zombie nurse. Good times.
For some of us though - me, hiya! - it's an exciting time because of the food. Forget toffee apples, though, as we've asked some of the TOP CHEFS IN THE COUNTRY for their Halloween food tips. From blood spattered icing to spooky mash and various things with pumpkins. Enjoy!
Lily Vanilli's bloody pudding (berry coulis on top of meringue 'bones')
A bit of mixed berry coulis 'blood' is a quick way to turn a simple recipe grisly. Pipe on top of a frosted cake to make dracula bite marks or splatter across cakes & meringues. Delicious & gory.
photograph by Romas Foord and from Lily Vanilli's Sweet Tooth published by Canongate RRP £20
Rowley leigh's pumpkin pie
The amount of sugar in the mix is depends on both taste and the sweetness of the pumpkin: adjust accordingly, with more or less sugar or the addition of a little maple syrup.
250 grams unsalted butter
100 grams sugar
The finely grated zest of two lemons
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
500 grams plain flour
1. Dice butter and beat with the sugar in a food mixer until light and creamy in texture. Add the lemon zest and then beat in the egg and egg yolk to form a homogenous paste. Add the sieved flour and gently knead together to form a paste. Collect on a sheet of greaseproof paper and form into a ball and then wrap in film and refrigerate for half an hour.
1 pumpkin weighing 2.5kg
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
300 ml double cream
100 grams soft brown sugar
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
Cut pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and the stalk before cutting into segments. Place the segments on an oiled baked tray and brush with the remaining oil. Grate the nutmeg over the pumpkin and then sprinkle with the cloves and place the cinnamon stick amongst them. Roast the spiced pumpkin for 40 minutes in a medium hot oven (180˚C) or until well roasted and perfectly tender.
Place the pumpkin – skin and all, but withholding all but a small piece of the cinnamon stick – in a blender or food processor and blend to a puree. Pass this pulp through a sieve and then add the sugar, cream and eggs and whisk until smooth.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll into a circle big enough to line a 26cm diameter tart ring. Leave a slight overhang over the rim of the ring and line the base with foil and some dried beans. Bake this tart ring ‘blind’ for twenty minutes in the same 180˚C oven as the pumpkin until the base is dry and cooked through.
Remove the foil and beans from the tart shell and pour in the mixture, which will be thick enough to need levelling off with a spatula before placing in the oven, set lower at 150˚C. Bake until just set – test by gently shaking the tray and touching the centre of the tart – which should be after forty minutes. Remove from oven and carefully cut off the excess overhanging pastry with a serrated knife.
Leave the tart to cool for at least half an hour before dusting with icing sugar and then serving with cream or ice cream.
Anna Hansen's spooky mash (above, in a jar, although it tastes nicer stirred into mash)
One of my favourite mashes that goes brilliantly with any grilled fish and looks super spookey is squid ink mash – black and slightly glossy this is perfect for Halloween! Make mash as you would then whisk in a couple of tablespoons of squid ink. Delicious!
photograph by Chris Terry
Ji-Sun's pumpkin cream
Pastry chef Ji-Sun of Apero recommends making your favourite cake into a Hallowe’en cake by swapping your favourite icing for a pumpkin cream:
Add a few tablespoons of tinned pumpkin puree to a standard buttercream recipe along with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg for a dessert that will match your pumpkin. This goes really well with pecans or walnuts sprinkled on top.