How To: Halloween Treats

31st October 2014

Hello there! Today I’d like to continue my ‘How To’ series, following the success of my How To Polaroid blog post. I decided I’d like to do something seasonal and since Halloween is basically the ultimate excuse to stuff your face with sugary snacks, I thought a baking post might suffice. Unfortunately, my culinary skills are somewhat lacking. I therefore recruited the help of my lovely Grandmother and two cousins; the Destiny’s Child of the baking world.

 

I’ve got four really simple but delicious recipes for you to try. Enjoy reading the (hopefully) easy-to-follow steps or just look at the pretty pictures. Meanwhile I'll be filling in my application form for next year’s Great British Bake Off…

 

        1. Cauldron Cake-Pops

        2. Slime Popcorn

        3. Pumpkin Face Cake-Balls

        4. Spider Cupcakes 

 

*WARNING: This post includes the words 'plonk', 'flump', 'soggy' and a whole bunch of awful innuendos*

 

Cauldron Cake-Pops

 

Cake-pops are an absolute essential for any occasion. Ultimately, this is just a ball of cake covered in chocolate (or icing) and plonked on a stick. However I find there's something quite quirky and different about cake-pops which makes them irresistible. They have unbelievable amounts of potential, for example a fun Halloween-style witch's cauldron. How convenient that I happen to have made a recipe just for you...

First, a list of ingredients! You will need...

 - 60g (2oz) butter

 - 120g (4oz) icing sugar

 - 200g Cooking Chocolate

 - Colourful sprinkles

 - Whisk (Electric if you're lazy)

 - Coloured Madeira Cake

This should make roughly 16 pops.

 

You should end up with a mix which looks something like the image on the left. We then used a readily-made green and orange Madeira cake so that the inside of the cake looks somewhat like a potion. 

 

This is without a doubt my favourite part of the whole post. Once your mixture is completely, well, mixed, you can begin to make your balls. Unless your Nan happens to be Inspector Gadget, then you'll have to do this by hand. Fortunately, mine had a meatball-shaper so we used that.

 

Melt down your baking chocolate in the microwave. Break it up before placing in and heat for roughly three minutes. Check every minute and stir to make sure everything is going according to plan. Next, dip your sticks in the chocolate (sigh, the innuendos just write themselves) and place in the centre of the slightly hardened ball.

 

Once the cake-balls are fully coated in your melted chocolate, place them on a tray lined with baking paper. As you place it on the tray, an overflow of chocolate will form. This is actually very helpful as it acts as the top of your cauldron. The shape literally makes itself - how handy!

 

In order to create a sticky surface, you should carefully warm the chocolate ledge. We did this using a hairdryer for a couple of seconds. Here's one I made earlier modelled by Hannah. If anyone's looking for a hairdryer model then I know a gal.

 

Weigh approximately 60g (2oz) of butter and mash it up with a whisk. Next, add 120g (4oz) of icing sugar to the butter and mix together. Keep whisking away until you're left with a buttercream substance - relatively thick but so you can no longer see the lumps of sugar. Whisk away your troubles into the butter-sugar mix.

This is where you need to get your hands dirty. Mash-up the segments of cake into small, breadcrumb-resemblant pieces and add to the mix. You'll then need to add this to your creamed butter/sugar concoction.

Line your balls on a baking tray having made sure they are of equal proportion. Stick this in the fridge for at least a few hours and the waiting game begins.

 

(Note: this is in reference to cake-balls, please do not put your testicles in the fridge)

 

This will hold the stick in place ready for serving and eating from. Now you're going to dip your balls in the chocolate! Make sure you cover the entire surface of the ball but keep the stick as clean as possible. Bear in mind this is the part that people hold.

 

(I am so sorry)

 

Refrigerate your cake-pops for at least a few hours and you'll return to a magically hardened layer of chocolate. Cautiously unpeal from the baking paper (which should prevent sticking) and prepare your decorative sprinkles. This will act as the 'potion' and should sit on your readily made ledge.

 

Time to cover the ledge in sprinkles!!! We chose to use purple/green thousands, mini colourful chocolate balls and dried raspberry pieces. Altogether this tastes amazing. Finally, present your cake-pops in a little stand and feel good about yourself. Go you.

 

Slime Popcorn

 

This is a super quick and easy recipe. Whether you're running a tad late and need to create a cool treat or if you just need a scary movie night companion, this recipe is now your best friend. It's really simple but also extremely effective. 

For this recipe you will need...

 - 80g (3oz) ready-made sweet popcorn

 - 200g white chocolate

 - Green food-colouring

 

(Note: the plant is not an ingredient)

Once your chocolate is melted, the fun begins. Add green food colouring and stir it thoroughly. The amount of food colouring used is for baker-discretion. You generally want to achieve an obvious green which still looks somewhat appetising.

Break up your chocolate into small chunks and try to resist eating too much of it - you can lick the spoon later, don't worry. Stick this in a microwave for roughly three minutes, checking and stirring at regular intervals. This should then be fully melted.

Next, pour this over the already-prepared popcorn. You can either purchase this readily made or just pop the kernals prior to melting the chocolate yourself. Make sure you use all of the chocolate and then mix into the popcorn. Make sure to cover every piece.

Once all of your popcorn is covered in delicious white (well, green) chocolate, prepare a small tray with cling film. You should clump together a handful of popcorn and place on the tray. This is quite a sticky and meticulous job but you'll get there eventually. The 'clumping' is simply to stop everything sticking together in one big piece.

We then sprinkled a handful of dried raspberry pieces onto the popcorn clumps, giving them an extra burst of flavour. This is totally optional and the popcorn still tastes amazing without. Stick the trays (we filled three) in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened. When serving, either break up the pieces or keep them in clumps.

Pumpkin Face Cake-Balls

 

Relatively similar to the previous Cauldron Cake-Pops, the Pumpkin Face Cake-Balls are nifty, bite-sized and seasonal. It can be a little bit fiddly when making the actual face out of icing, but everything else is very simple. The vibrant orange cake is quite the novelty.

For this recipe you will need...

 - 3 eggs (we used free-range)

 - 110g Butter

 - Teaspoon of vanilla extract

 - 110g self-raising flour

 - 110g Caster Sugar

 - Icing

 - Orange and black food colouring

 

Once you've got a suitable creation, begin to fold your mix. To do this, ninja slice through the middle, push your spatula underneath to one side and fold over. You will need to do this a few times from each angle. This is what will turn a sloppy mess into a delicious cake. Perhaps this is why I haven't made a baking/recipe post before.

We're going to start by creating an ordinary cake. If you can buy an orange cake then that will save you a lot of time.

 

Weigh your butter and sugar, creaming them together with a whisk. Next, crack three eggs into the bowl and continue to mix. Finally, sieve 110g flour and add.

Next, the fun begins. Add your orange food colouring and mix thoroughly. You're looking for quite a vibrant, pumpkin-esque colour. The amount of colouring needed is simply down to your own discretion. Once you've got your finished mix, add to a cooking dish thing (technical term) lined with baking paper and stick it in the oven.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at a temperature of 160*C. When the timer bleeps, remove your cake. After all this hard work, you're now basically going to mash the cake up. If you already had an orange cake (well done you) then you can hop back on board now. Break to small, breadcrumb-resemblant pieces. Do this into a bowl, obviously.

It's that time again, you lucky sausage! You're going to form your cake into balls of equal proportion and place on a tray.

So it seems every recipe includes melting chocolate in some way. Once again, whip out the white chocolate and melt it in the microwave. You'll need roughly 100g. Add orange food colouring as this will act as the pumpkin exterior.

For this next step, you're going to need some pre-made icing. We used store-bought icing but I'm sure there's a way of making it yourself too. Unfortunately I have absolutely no idea so head to Google for the answer. Add black food colouring and mould this in. We used a variety of cake cutters to mould pumpkin mouths, stalks and small triangle eyes. This is quite fiddly, sozzles.

Now we're going to add some buttercream to the equation. We actually used some residue from the previous mix we made back on the Cauldron Cake-Pops so for a more in-depth description of how to do this, scroll back up. Basically it's just butter and icing sugar whisked together. This should be squeezed into the cake pieces with a spoon.

The balls should stay together providing you have used enough buttercream. If they flump, add some more. Flump flump flump.

Using two spoons, coat your cake-balls in chocolate. Being neat isn't really important, as pumpkins aren't perfect spheres. Once you've done this, place on a tray lined with baking paper and stick in the fridge. The waiting game begins once more.

I totally forgot to take any pictures as I was so encaptured by the awesomeness of our pumpkins. Basically, once your chocolate-coated balls have hardened, take them out of the fridge. You may need to slightly warm the chocolate in order to make it sticky; we used a hairdryer. Stick the icing features to the pumpkins and create your faces! We chose to make all of our happy because life is great.

This fella isn't quite feeling the Halloween spirit

'Spooky' Spider Cupcakes

 

I found the inspiration for my final recipe courtesy of Sainsbury's. Their 'spooky' spider cupcakes are really imaginative but also look and taste amazing. Our versions actually ended up as rather cheery spider cupcakes, kind of like a child in a buzz-lightyear costume carrying a bag full of sweets whilst trick or treating. I think they were supposed to be somewhat scary, but when you're a spider with legs made out of fizzy cola sticks, I doubt you're capable of any emotion other than absolute joy. Anyway...

For this recipe you will need...

 - 3 eggs (we used free-range)

 - 110g Butter

 - 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder

 - 110g self-raising flour

 - 110g Caster Sugar

 - Brown icing

 - Fizzy cola straws (or strawberry)

 - Mini white chocolate buttons

To create your chocolate paste, you will need access to hot water. I'm assuming you do, since you have internet connection and you're reading this. Basically, plonk two tablespoons worth of cocoa powder (I used Cadbury Bourneville because it's lush), add hot water and stir. A word of advice, if I may; do NOT lick the spoon for this one after you've made it, it tastes absolutely awful as a paste. Speaking from experience.

Once your cupcakes have been baked to perfection, take them out of the oven and gather your sexy spider decorations. I don't think cake decorations are often referred to as 'sexy' but it's been a long day and we like to push boundaries here at The Jack Experience. Step away from this open box.

We added brown food-colouring to the pre-made icing and then rolled it all out. Here is a picture (above) of my Nan using a rolling-pin at the speed of light. Never mess with a Grandmother and her cooking utensils. 

Now we're going to cut up the straws (cola, strawberry or both, whatevs) into quarters. Each spider cupcake will require two straws as they have eight legs. Maths is fun. 

 

We're also going to add white chocolate buttons as the eyes and little balls of extra icing to act as the pupils.

We're going to start by creating an ordinary cake mix, just like last time. Weigh your butter and sugar, creaming them together with a whisk. Next, crack three eggs into the bowl and continue to mix. Finally, sieve 110g flour and add. The start to this recipe is basically identical to the previous one, FYI. Fold your mix so that it isn't soggy (lol) and then create your chocolate paste.

Add your chocolate paste to the mix you have already made and whack it all together. This will act as the fundamental base to your spider before all the funky decorations are added on top. Think of this as the body and internal organs of your eight-legged cake beast insect thing. Finally, split this mix into cupcake cases in a baking tray (ours filled twelve) and stick in the oven for 25 minutes at 160*C. Don't burn yourself, kids.

It seems this post is going downhill pretty quickly, so allow me to explain what the decorations will be used for. The cola straws will be the spider legs, the white buttons will be the eyes and the icing will be the spider's body. This will also act as the part which holds everything together. Nifty.

Next, use a cake cutter approximately the size of your cupcake to create the spider's body. Stick one of these onto the top of each cake. We used buttercream to make sure it didn't fall off, but as long as it stays there, it's fine.

Finally (thank goodness), we're going to use a knife to carve a mouth for the spiders. Unfortunately, this little fella is missing one of his legs and has a wonky eyes. Sometimes even life as a cupcake spider isn't what it's cut out to be. Get it? Because we're cutting the mouth!!!! This post will be over soon, don't worry.

So that concludes 'How To Halloween'. You can also check out what I wore for Halloween here. It's been a long journey but I think we've all established that I'm not a baking blogger. I'm off for a lie down. 

 

If you choose to make one of these recipes then please send me a picture of your finished product as I'd love to see them! I'd like to quickly thanks my cousins Hannah and Maisy and my Nan for helping me because this post would not be at all possible without them. I feel I've hidden my culinary incompetence quite well with their help, actually.

 

Have a wonderful Halloween and stay safe with whatever you get up to. Until next time, goodbye!

By Jack Edwards