Sunday, 28 October 2007

Halloween Biscuit Cakes (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

The whole Halloween thing leaves me a bit perplexed. I like to know the roots of traditions and festivals, and it was only when the children started asking questions a couple of years ago, that I realised I didn’t have a clue. A quick internet search talked of ghosts and ghouls coming back from the dead looking for living bodies to inhabit. I wasn’t sure I wanted to mention this to my tender 5, 3 and 2 year olds, so I think I just glossed over it all and bigged up pumpkins, things vaguely spooky, and Trick or Treat.

I'm hoping I won't have to Trick or Treat with my children for at least another 5 years - dragging four children around the streets at bedtime is not a tempting thought - but it was a lot of of fun when I was little. One memorable year I joined a band of children for our annual Trick or Treat fest. For some reason all parental control was relaxed and we were allowed to roam the dark streets with no adult chaperone, just a few thrilling older boys taking charge. I’m not sure my Mum had vetted those thrilling older boys, (T.O.B’s) they wore Harringtons and boots and were rather fanciable.

I joined the band with pride, for I had a pumpkin suspended from a cane, complete with lit candle inside; health and safety be damned. So off we set, a motley assortment of witches, ghosts and thrilling older boys, did I mention those?

Around the houses we went, our ‘Trick or Treat’ chorus growing louder and louder with each suburban doorbell. The pockets of the thrilling older boys were filling with our loot, it was all going very well.

At one house, Martin (T.O.B.) seized my pumpkin on a cane and danced up to the door waving it as we yelled, ‘Trick or Treat! Money or Sweet!’ Rather unfortunately, my pumpkin-with-candle design was a bit flawed, and he succeeded in setting one of the ghosts on fire. When the bemused homeowner finally opened her door she was confronted with a screaming ghost, crying witches and T.O.B’S desperately trying to extinguish the flames.

Alas, we promptly lost the ghost and her sister; they were ushered into the goodly folk’s home so that parents could be called. The poor ghost was sobbing desperately; for a minute there I suppose she thought she was going to be joining the dead souls that were swirling around our heads eyeing up our bodies for inhabitation. Fear not dear reader, the ghost was not injured, just very shocked.

We decided we’d probably had enough Trick or Treating for one year, and we headed back to someone’s garage to count out the cash. I somehow ended up in the garage with a couple of the T.O.B’S as they started a pile of money for each trick or treater present.

‘A pound for him, pound for her, pound for you…’ etc.

Then one of the handsome Harrington-clad boys flashed me a smile. As he started his second round of dealing out the cash, he put a pound on our three piles and skipped everyone else. On the next round everyone had a pound, but on the following round he again missed out everyone else and only put the money on our piles.

I was horrified. No matter that he wore a Harrington and daring, lace-up boots! He was nothing but a common swindler! My convent training came to the fore and I roundly condemned what he was doing. The T.O.B smirked, re-adjusted the piles and no more was said.

A clear blow for truth and righteousness.

All chances of ever getting to first base with a T.O.B. - scuppered.

With the benefit of hindsight I can shrug and think that he was probably on crack cocaine before he was 20, and really not as attractive as I found him at the time. Or I could have ignored the swindling, been a few pounds richer and might have had a squeeze with an older boy in a Harrington and lace up boots.

Oh the tortured life of a young girl trick or you know where your daughter is tonight?!

Halloween Biscuit Cakes (makes about 25 ghoulish biscuits)

It's a slightly odd title I know, but it really is the only way to describe these little ghouls. When you sandwich the tender biscuits together with the orangey chocolatey inner...well. It is a symphony of yearning sweetness, a rich hit of dark and mysterious chocolate and a naughty orange tang. So like one of those Thrilling Older Boys.

Please note: these biscuits are labour intensive, but really worth the effort; your darling children will think you're fabulous. You could easily make the biscuits one day, store them in an airtight container, and then your children could help you sandwich them together the next day.

gluten-free version, egg free, dairy free version:

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

175g sugar (caster would be best, but I've made with granulated and it's not a problem)

175g golden syrup

1 heaped tsp of Orgran no egg egg replacer mixed with 2 tbsp of orange juice

zest of one orange

a pinch of clove powder

a big pinch of ground ginger

0.25tsp ground nutmeg

1.5tsp ground cinnammon

0.5tsp mixed spice

wheat flour, no egg, no dairy version:

Use 350g of wheat flour and omit the xanthan gum

gluten free with egg version:

use the GF flour and xanthan gum and substitute the 'no egg' with a real egg. As a real egg usually yields more liquid than the 'no egg', you may have to add more GF flour (I would go with rice flour) to give you a workable consistency. This recipe is very forgiving, if you have to add quite a bit more flour, it shouldn't affect the final outcome.

For the filling:

125g dairy free spread

a medium orange - use the one whose zest you stole for the biscuit mix

4tbsps icing sugar

  • You will need your oven at 180 degrees Celsius / Gas 4, but it takes a while to carve out your halloween shapes, so you won't need to light it until after you've started cutting out the shapes

  • Mix the heaped tsp of no egg powder with 2 tbsps of orange juice (if using a real egg, ignore this bit your turn with the orange zest will come in a bit), add the zest of the orange and set aside

  • Put the rice flour into a large mixing bowl and seive in the gram flour. If using wheat flour, place the flour into the mixing bowl

  • Add the xanthan gum (for GF version), bicarbonate of soda and spices and stir well to combine

  • Rub the dairy free spread into the flour using the tips of your fingers, until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs

  • Stir in the sugar

  • Mix the golden syrup with the no egg and orange zest mix and add to the mixing bowl. If using a real egg, beat the egg and the golden syrup together, add the orange zest, and put it all into the mixing bowl

  • Using a wooden spoon, mix it all together, then use your hands to squidge everything together to form a dough. If you are using GF flour, you may find that the dough really sticks to your hands. Moisten your hands with a little rice milk and carry on squidging, it will sort itself out when it comes to rolling out

  • If need be, you could now wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour or so, or you could crack on, only a few days until halloween

  • Flour your work surface with rice flour and roll out the dough until about 2-3mm thick. Use a bamboo skewer or a very sharp craft knife to carve out a pumpkin shape, or a ghost shape with scary eyes, or a witch's hat with a crescent moon, or whatever you like. You might need to 'dot' out your design with the skewer end and then do a 'dot to dot' with the knife to cut out the dough(Make sure your design has some holes in it so that the chocolate mix will show through). When you've carved your shape, lift it up gently and place it onto an uncut piece of dough, cut around the shape so that you have a matching shape

  • Put your shapes onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment

  • You could now light your oven, by the time you've finished cutting out shapes, it'll be warmed up

  • Carry on cutting out the ghoulish shapes until all the dough is used up

  • Bake in the oven for about 10 mins, but watch it, they cook really quickly and you don't want them too brown

  • Leave them to cool on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack and let them get completely cold. If you wanted to take a break now I would fully understand. Pop the biscuits into an airtight container, pour yourself a glass of wine and when you're ready....

  • For the filling: Cut the orange into small pieces and remove any pips. Blend the orange in a blender until smooth, you may have to add a splash of orange juice to achieve a smooth mix. Set aside.

  • Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie. When it has melted, remove from the heat and add the dairy free spread. Mix until the spread has melted and it's looking smooth and glossy

  • Add 7 tbsps of the blended orange and mix

  • Add the 4 tbsps icing sugar. If it's not sweet enough for you, add some more

  • Put some cold water into your sink - it should reach about halfway up the bowl of your chocolate mix.

  • Put the chocolate mix bowl into the sink of cold water and start stirring. In fact, I reckon you could wander off for about ten minutes whilst it cools and then start the stirring. You are waiting for the chocolate mix to cool so that it thickens

  • When the mix has thickened enough for you to spread it, but so that it doesn't ooze out of your biscuits, you are ready to start

  • Have your scary biscuit pairs to the ready and spread the one without holes with some chocolate mix. Put the biscuit with the pumpkin face / ghost face / whatever/ on the top and press gently. The chocolate mix should spread to the edges and the biscuit should come to life as per the picture.

  • Continue until you have stuck your pairs together

  • Any left over inner mix can be made into truffles....that recipe is coming soooooon!

  • If it all gets too much, see the picture below for another idea

  • Enjoy halloween, and don't answer the door to trick or treaters, they're such a pain in the arse, aren't they?

Pssst, may I add another picture?

When it's nearly midnight, and you're really fed up of crafting halloween shapes, but still have tons of dough left....rummage in the cupboard, find a round cutter and stamp out lots of little circles. Sandwich them together with chocolate filling to make cute little 'burgers'. Great for the school run and very impressive served after your fabulous champagne lunch on Monday. Oh, doesn't everyone have a champagne lunch on a Monday?

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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muddyboots said...

fortunately we live in the countryside so do not have the problem of mini ghouls knocking on the door, perhaps if this was a problem l just might dress up as Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Akelamalu said...

Trick or Treating is becoming more popular over here now but they start at the beginning of October! Drives me mad. Call me Scrouge but I tell them to come back on the 31st. Love the idea of the little burgers. :)

Alisa said...

That pumpkin is too cute!

Marianne said...

Like Muddy Boots, we are too far out to attract any but the most determined trick or treaters, but I have had to drive my son to the nearest village for an evening's naughtiness. Luckily, everyone knows who he is, who his Mum is and where his Gran lives, so they don't get away with much.

When my children were small, we used to have a hallowe'en tea party - lots of orange food - then play Murder in the Dark by firelight. Thrilling.

Frog in the Field said...

We do know where our daughter is tonight, but it's all very scary thinking about boyfriends.
I never went Trick or treating and I won't allow it now for my girls.
We sometimes have 'the family' round for a Spooky tea eating lots and generally behaving badly. We're enough to scare anybody so I don't think trick or treaters would come anywhere near this house!

debio said...

oh we always have a champagne lunch on Monday - thanks for the recipe!

Daughter trick-or-treating tomorrow evening - they're all going to be 'stalked' by her friend's mother....

Potty Mummy said...

Sorry, would have commented before but was too busy recovering from my champagne breakfast (oh doesn't everyone...?). Anyway, just wondering how you managed to get away with participating in the whole trick or treat thing as a child. My parents thought it was very not-smart. Mind you, they were quite happy to send us up to the brownies dressed as bats and let us half be half-drowned in the apple-bobbing barrel...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

muddyboots, a great idea for the Vampire slayer. This year I also won't be bothered by trick or treaters, I think it's non-existent in France!

Akelamalu, you are a brave woman telling them to come back later, do you not fear for a brick through your window? The little burgers (I mean the food not the trick or treaters), were very easy to eat...

Alisa, thank-you dear!

Marianne, it sounds as though your son can't get up to too much bother then! Murder in the dark by firelight sounds fab.

FITF, the whole issue of boyfriends is a horrible thought, we shall move swiftly on! Enjoy your spooky tea.

Debio, sooo glad i'm not the only one to do champagne lunches. Good idea for the 'stalking' mother, I've noticed them sometimes lurking by the front gate as their offspring demand their goodies.

Potty mummy, will try the champagne breakfast tomorrow, thanks for the tip. Have no idea how I ended up roaming the streets, my Mum was a very strict woman. Can only assume she thought other parents might be with us? It is my one and only memory of trick or treating as a child, so maybe she got wise after the event...?

Akelamalu said...

No, they're amateurs round here! They don't even dress up just put a mask on. Anyway I scarier than their worst nightmare! :)

goomer said...

OK. This is all I have to say. I am just so impressed that you are taking care of 4 children, cook all the time sharing wonderful recipes with us AND write this wonderful blog...
You are very inspiring!
Thank you :)

Mya said...

Burp! Excuse me, how vulgar! I'm just recovering from my afternoon- tea champagne party, which was a roaring success. We're planning to do the rounds tomorrow evening, as we have done for the past three years. I got covered in flour chucked from an upstairs window last year - what larks! And this is France. Half way up a mountain, in the middle of nowhere. There's not much else to do to pass the time...I'm really hoping to avoid the T.O.B.s - around these parts they really ARE old - and looking for thrills - which is quite another matter.
Mya x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

akelamalu, youf of today doesn't know what hard work is...why can't they rustle up a costume? They expect everything handed to them on a plate... ;-)

Goomer, you are lovely! What kind words, I'm glad the blog is of use to you. (pssst, don't tell anyone, but i'm really not very inspirational at all, I'm feeling like an uninspired old hag this evening)

MYA, I applaud your british derring do, you are made of sterner stuff than me (or is that the afternoon-tea champagne talking? what a marvellous idea by the way)...i would not venture out trick or treating in the depths of rural france. And flour from above, almost Manna from heaven we could say? And if the old women in your village wear crotchless knickers, WHAT must those TOB'S be wearing?! Prudence. (for other readers: MYA told us in her blog that the old dears wear raunchy stuff, it's not just my vivid imagination)

Georgie said...

Happy Halloween! Love this! If you want to hear about a Halloween with a difference check out for trick or treating in Phnom Penh!


Elsie Button said...

brilliant post! really laughed at this!
i remember the TOBs, as you call them! they seemed so exciting and mature and godly at the time, but as you say, they were probably pretty unattractive. I often see a particular TOB in town now from all those years ago - oh how the mighty have fallen!

Suffolkmum said...

So remember those TOB's too. Gods in Harrington's they were! Very funny as ever. I loathe taking my children trick or treating - we only do a couple of houses in the village where Iknow they'll be welcome, but I can still sense the icy stares from the old ladies. The children adore it though.

@themill said...

Curmudgeon that I am, i loather trick or treating. Vile Americanism - much more fun to burn politicians at the stake five days later. Ahh British traditions....
PS Did the banana muffins - scrumptious

Brom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brom said...

I always preferred TOG. They of course always came with a numeric value. The higher the number the greater the probability of getting them under the duvet.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Georgie, thanks for dropping by, will try and head out to Phnom Penh, half term is drawing to a close...!

Elsie B, oh how strange to still see TOBS! I bet you're very glad you went for Tom!

SuffolkMum, oh how I wanted a Harrington! well done for taking them trick or treat, I'm allergic to the whole concept. I think I'm a bit fed up of halloween too, Bonfire Night is much more up my street.

@themill, you are right you curmudgeon you! It IS more fun to burn Guy (freedom fighter or terrorist?) a week later.
so pleased you tried the muffins!

Brom, i am baffled by the number thing for the TOG'S...are we talking about their age? Or some more sinister boy ritual of assigning points/ratings to remember this is a clean family blog!! ;-)

Brom said...

Hello Piggy,

Sorry, just my weird sense of humour trying to make a pun from TOG which is a rating given to Duvets/quilts for warmth factor. I saw a link to your TOB and thought I'd turn it around a bit!

It's all made up, I've never used a boy generated points rating system gor girls, ever, honest ;-)

Brom said...

gor = for of course.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Brom, that must be your dominant left brain (or is it right?) coming in at a tangent, I would never have made the TOG/duvet connection. Or was that conveniently made up to DISGUISE the fact that you had some awful sexist merit system for the girls around you? Hmmmmm ;-)

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this