1 Nov 2011


I love halloween, I don't know why, I just do.  It has a sort of mysterious and exciting feel about it and it is a chance to make novelty food and decorate the house to make it look creepy and spider infested.  I held a halloween party in my house last year when I was a student and everybody really enjoyed it so I wanted to do something similar this year, and when my mum said that we could host a party we both got quite excited.  We have never hosted a party at our house before so it would be a new experience, and possibly a complete disaster, but it was at least something to look forward to and to plan.  We both invited a few people, not too many, just some people who we thought wouldn't judge us too harshly if the party was not very successful and I had a think about what food I could make, something made much harder by inviting people with different eating requirements; maybe I don't have much of an imagination, but I find it hard to think of that many exciting party foods I could make that are both gluten and dairy free.  At any rate I did my best and spent two days baking, cleaning and decorating and having a very enjoyable time, in my opinion the preparation is the best part of a party.

The different foods I made were chilli con carne, cheesy potato skins, witches fingers sausage rolls, toasted pumpkin seeds, toffee apples, spider web cupcakes, gingerbread witches and ghosts and gluten free cake pops.

Witches fingers
The witches fingers sausage rolls were really easy to make and tasted delicious, though I am a little disappointed with how they turned out; they were a bit fatter and more puffed up than I would have liked, making them less thin and knobbly than I wanted, not too bad though.  All I did to make them was to take the skin off some sausages, roll them a bit thinner and wrap them in ready-rolled puff pastry, cutting a bit off at the end to look like a nail and scoring some lines in to look like knuckles, then cook them at about 200 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Though they may not have looked quite as fingery as I would have liked, they were the most sought after food and were all gone very quickly.

Toasted pumpkin seeds
I made toasted pumpkin seeds for the first time at my halloween party last year on the recommendation of one of my housemates and they were such a success that I decided to do them again this year and probably will every year now.  They are extremely easy to make and if you are going to be carving pumpkins anyway then you don't go much out of your way and it would be a shame to waste them.  All you have to do is separate out the seeds from the orange gunky stuff inside the pumpkin, give them a swill and then spread them out to dry overnight.  When they have dried out you toss them in oil and salt then cook them in an oven at about 120 degrees for an hour, turning them every so often.

Spiderweb cupcakes
I think these spiderweb cupcakes turned out really well, I've seen them around before and I just remembered them and thought they would be a good idea, I've never made these specific ones before but I have made loads of cupcakes before, it was just the design on the top which I had never done and it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would.  The recipe I used was a simple chocolate sponge recipe:
125g Caster sugar
125g Margerine
2 eggs
125g S.R. flour with some taken out and replaced with cocoa powder
Cooked in the oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
When they had cooled I melted some milk chocolate and some white chocolate and my sister, who was helping me at the time, spread some milk chocolate on top of each one then I took them and, as neatly as I could (which turns out to not be very neatly at all) I drizzled two circles on top of the milk chocolate in white chocolate and then, using a cocktail stick, drew out lines from the centre to the edge all the way round, creating the spiderweb effect in the chocolate.  Then I left them to cool and put a few plastic spiders on them so that people got the idea of what they were meant to be.

Gluten free cake pops
Cake pops are a running trend at the moment, I only discovered them fairly recently on bakerella, which is a blog one of my friends recommended to me.  I thought they looked very odd but interesting and have wanted to try making them since I found out about them and never got round to it.  I thought that pumpkins would make an easy thing to make for my first attempt since they are just one colour, sadly however, they turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.  I bought a gluten free cake mix since the last time I tried to bake my own gluten free cake it went horribly wrong and I have since lost confidence in trying to do it again.  I know it is totally cheating to use a cake mix but me and gluten free flour do not get along and I didn't want my coeliac friend to go without any home baked goods.  After I had made the cake I left it to cool then made up a simple butter cream, broke the cake into crumbs, then mixed them together, rolling the mixture into little balls and then put them in the fridge overnight to set.  Everything up to this point was pretty easy, it was what went next that was difficult, the actual decorating of the cake pops.  I melted my orange candy melts and skewered the cake balls on lolly sticks then attempted to give them an even coating, this proved to be pretty difficult and I had several cake pop casualties from ones that had cracked and fallen into the candy melts or just fallen off the end of the stick, I don't know if there is a particular technique for doing it but if there is then I certainly don't know it, I ended up just spreading the candy melts onto the cake pops with a spoon and dealing with the fact that they were not entirely smooth.  Then I just stuck a green decoration on the top of each one to make them look more like pumpkins.  I would have drawn on faces too but I decided against it judging by the lack of smoothness of my pops and the fact that my icing pen was green and not black.  Anyway they had character and who has ever seen a perfectly round pumpkin?

Gingerbread ghosts
The gingerbread ghosts are my favourite out of the things I made for this party.  I think they turned out really well, they tasted good and personally I think they look really professional.  I wanted to do shaped biscuits and I thought that gingerbread would work well because it is what you make gingerbread men out of, therefore it must be really good for shaping and icing, very logical reasoning if you ask me.  I also decided on ghosts because they are nice and curvy and don't really have any pointy bits that would break off or get burnt.  My mum wanted witches too so I also did those but they did not look nearly so good as the ghosts.  I made the gingerbread man recipe from my mum's Good Housekeeping cookbook, which I really recommend if you want simple, every day recipes, then I used ready-rolled icing, which actually required much more rolling to get it thin enough, and used the same cookie cutter for the icing as I did for the biscuits.  This meant that the icing was slightly smaller than the biscuit and so fitted perfectly.  I stuck the icing on with just some normal icing sugar with water, then I painted on the face with food colouring.  Decorating these really felt like an art lesson at primary school, lots of cutting, sticking and painting.

Toffee apples
I always make toffee apples for halloween because they are such an autumnal thing and have somehow become an item only available at this time of year, so I think of it as typical halloween food.  I was in a rush when making these however and, though I absolutely know how to make toffee I managed to mess these up and not cook the toffee for long enough, meaning that it was soft rather than crunchy.  In some ways this is a good thing however because it meant that nobody could break their teeth on them, which is always a risk with toffee apples.  Anyway I enjoyed them which is the main thing and they look nice, even if they are not exactly how they should be.

Well I think this post has gone on for quite long enough now, it is possibly the longest post I have ever written but then I did make a lot of different things.  I leave you with a picture of the table which I laid out the food on for the party to give you a bit of a feel for what it was like.

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