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I’m getting so excited about Halloween! Is anyone else planning a party to celebrate the spookiest night of the year? I’d love to hear your plans – what are you going to cook? What are you going to wear?! Leave a comment and let me know… I’m dying of curiosity!

You might notice that, in the spirit of the event, I’ve added a handy new link to your left, which when clicked, will lead you to all my posts with the category ‘Halloween’, so if you want to find the Halloween marshmallow recipe, my pumpkin fondant tutorial or anything else to do with Halloween, you know where to find it! Throughout the year I’ll be changing this to reflect the seasons, the holidays, and my latest obsessions!

Purple buttercream and stars

This year, my menu is nowhere near organised… but I do know what my costume will be. Thanks to a quick shop in Primark, I will be an ’80s zombie, complete with acid yellow dress, purple tights, orange legwarmers and a heck of a lot of purple accessories. I am perfecting my moaning noises every morning whilst getting up, I assure you! And I have a magic lipstick that looks green but turns pink when you put it on. Now, how scary is that?

Pst – I’m totally honoured to have been featured in Indie Fixx’sHalloween Tutes from Around The Interwebs‘ – in the same list as Martha Stewart, no less! Watch out, Mazza…

This weekend I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Life is Sweet, by Hope and Greenwood, which is, as it so rightly says on the cover, a collection of splendid old-fashioned confectionary (buy it if you get the chance! It’s very reasonably priced and ever so good). I’ve made marshmallows, fudge and cinder toffee, and although the cinder toffee wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, I was particularly pleased with the fudge. However, as Halloween is coming up, I thought I’d make some spooky Halloween marshmallows by colouring them purple. The vanilla marshmallow recipe in Life is Sweet is unfortunately misprinted and the ingredients list is screwed up, so I’ve adapted my own from the recipe for Mallows D’Amour. There are a few technical aspects to this recipe which might prove difficult – you need a stand mixer (although I did experiment with an electric handheld whisk, and the patient might just be able to cope like this, holding it for around 15 minutes!) and a sugar thermometer. I had to borrow both of these, but a sugar thermometer is a great investment for making fudge, toffee, caramel and jam.

Halloweeen marshmallows with black stars

Halloween Marshmallows (adapted from Mallows D’Amour, Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood)

Ingredients

  • 450g (1lb) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 1 sachet powdered gelatine
  • Good dab of purple colouring paste (I used Wilton’s Violet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cornflour and icing sugar, to dust
  • Purple sugar/black stars or any Halloween themed decorations

Method

  • Line a 20cm/8inch square baking tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and dust with cornflour and icing sugar. I’ve found you need a heck of a lot of this to keep the marshmallow from sticking.
  • In a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, glucose and 200ml of water and stir. Place over a medium-high heat and add your sugar thermometer. Keep cooking until the temperature reaches 127C or 260F. This could take 15 minutes or as long as 25, so keep an eye on it.
  • Whilst this is happening, put 100ml of boiled water in a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir well until dissolved. This will really smell. Gelatine is not suitable for veggies, and from the smell of the gelatine, you will know why. Don’t panic, the smell goes away, and there is no taste of the gelatine whatsoever in the finished marshmallow. Now that would be Halloweeny…
  • When your gelatine and water is mixed well, add the vanilla and a good dab of purple colouring. For Halloween, you could also try black, orange and green – just remember that the colour will fade because of the egg whites, and the dusting of sugar and cornflour. When you add the food colouring, you should get a very dark colour. So much that you are secretly thinking ‘oh dear, I put too much in’. This will most likely give you a subtle shade…
  • When your syrup has reached the right temperature, you need to have a little panic attack and start jumping up and down and worrying you’re not ready. Don’t worry if you haven’t mixed your gelatine yet – I did this and it turned out all right. Just add it to the pan of sugar syrup and mix well. It’ll bubble, so watch out.
  • Get your stand mixer and whip the eggs until stiff peaks form. Turn the mixer down as slowly as it will go, and add the syrup and gelatine in very gently. Slow, slow. This could take a while… The heat from the syrup is heating the egg whites, so if you pour it on too fast, it’s likely the word could implode.
  • When you’ve done this, you turn the speed up to superfast and leave to beat for at least 15 minutes. The mix is ready when it holds onto the whisk well, and is thick and shiny.
  • Pour into your dusted pan. Leave it to set for a long time – the book says 2 hours, but I’ve left mine overnight before.
  • Turn the marshmallow out onto another dusted piece of parchment paper. If you’re like me, the mix will still have stuck to the bottom of your originally dusted piece of paper, so dust all sides until nothing is sticky. Then, slice and dust, slice and dust, into whatever shapes you like. Once you’ve dusted your marshmallows, you can shake off the excess coating by throwing them gently from hand to hand. Store in parchment paper.
  • Serve with edible sugar, as above, or with anything suitably Halloweeny…

Purple sugar Halloween marshmallows

How about black sugar stars, like the first photo? Or purple sanding sugar, like the photo above?Or, if you want to be more sophisticated, why not keep your mallow mix white, and then decorate with tiny gold stars? (I got mine from Jane Asher’s site.)

Starry Halloween marshmallows

These are too good to give to Halloween trick or treaters…

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to have a go at making some cute little pumpkins to go on top of Halloween cupcakes.

Fondant pumpkins

These are easy to make and don’t require any equipment beyond fondant, orange dye and toothpicks. (And green and brown dye if you want to make stalks, leaves and vines.)

Equipment

If you have orange fondant, well, you’re one step ahead… Hurrah! If you want them to be hard, you should make them a couple of weeks before when you need them, so you can sit them in a cool, dark place to set.

Fondant pumpkins, step one

First of all, roll your fondant into a small ball, then squash it down so it makes an oval. This will give it a much more interesting shape than a plain old sphere.

Fondant pumpkins, step two

Now it’s time to use your specialist equipment. First of all, pierce the centre to mark it. Then, rolling the toothpick, create a dimple in the centre of your ball.

Fondant pumpkins, step three

There you go – now you’ll have what looks like an orange doughnut gone wrong.

Fondant pumpkins, step four

Now, use your toothpick to create lines from the centre down the edge of your pumpkin, using a rocking motion. I do this by doing the four compass points, then filling in the spaces in between.

Fondant pumpkins, step five

Like so! With the heat of your fingers, your pumpkin might get a little floppy. You can fix this by placing it in the fridge at any point if it starts getting hard to handle. Don’t be a pushover for a vegetable made of sugar.

Fondant pumpkins, step six

That’s pretty much it! You can add a stalk (I’ve seen people use cloves for this, but obviously they’re not really edible like that) or even make a curly vine from green fondant curled around a matchstick.

Too cute to eat? Never!

Over the weekend, I’ve acquired some food colouring paste, numerous sprinkles and cupcake cases, and an obscene amount of butter, sugar and eggs. I’ve also learnt how to mould fondant into mini pumpkins (and, more importantly, found out what fondant is and where to buy it from). All of this is for a good cause…

Halloween cupcakes

More cupcakey Halloweeny goodness when it’s actually October… I just couldn’t resist posting these babies now!

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