ghosts & pumpkins, just enough creepy before halloween
I had so many recipes planned to share with you this week, but things change. This happened instead…
Technically, living in Greece means we don’t celebrate Halloween, nobody actually knows what Halloween is here. Lucky for me though, I work in a bakery owned by an English woman with a flair for creativity, & her son who went to school in the US. Both of these things, mean that the day before yesterday I got to make ghost meringues, pumpkin spice pumpkin shaped cookies, & carve actual pumpkins.
Who else can say they get to do that at work?
If I didn’t say it before, I’m saying it now…. I love my job. If my job was a man, I’d take it out to dinner, hit it over the head with a mallet, & then marry it before it had a chance to say “no”.
Please don’t let my oddities scare anyone away… I’m being extra creepy in the spirit of Halloween. In fact if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been this excited for Halloween in a really long time.
Right, we will be starting with the ghost meringues, they are the easiest to make & also need almost two hours in the oven. It’s best to start them first so that you can work on other things whilst they bake.
P.s. These next two recipes were altered from a book called ‘Cookie Swap’. If you’re in to decorating, or simply just love cookies, I highly recommend it. It is jam-packed with incredible ideas. I may have altered the ingredients only slightly, but the design is all from the author.
Ingredients, date-nut filling: makes 24 – 170g pitted dates, finely chopped – 1.5 tsp orange zest – 45ml orange juice – 30ml Grand Marnier – 75g walnuts, toasted & chopped finely – 1 tsp cinnamon – 1/2 tsp cloves
Directions, filling: 1. combine the dates, zest, juice & liqueur in a pan & cook over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed & the mixture starts to dry out a little. 2. stir in the nuts & spices. 3. allow the mixture to cool before forming mounds. A 1tsp measuring spoon, leveled, will give you the perfect amount for each mound. Ingredients, meringue cloak: – 120g egg whites, room temp – 1/4 tsp cream of tartar – 1 cup sifted superfine sugar – 1.5 tsp cornstarch – chocolate chips for eyes
Directions, cloak: 1. combine the egg whites, cream of tartar & sugar in a mixer. Start beating on low until it is all mixed & then turn the speed up to high until stiff peaks begin to form & the mixture is thick, white & glossy. 2. once it reaches this stage, add in the corn starch & beat until combined. 3. Fit a piping bag with a large 10 pointed star tip & fill with the mixture. 4. Position the tip directly on top of a mound at a 90° angle. Squeeze out the meringue until in covers the mound & then slowly pull up. Stop squeezing & then pull up suddenly. This will form a thin spike at the top of each ghost. Each ghost should be approx. 2in tall. 5. remember to work quickly as the meringue will start to deflate otherwise. 6. once formed, place two chocolate chip ‘eyes’ into each ghost, inserting the pointed tip in first. 7. bake until bone dry, about 1.5 to 3 hours. 8. these cookies should keep for about a week, if they start to become sticky from the humidity, just pop them back in the oven for 20 minutes @ 107ºC
SPICED PUMPKIN PATCH COOKIES:
Ingredients, cookies: – 360g gf flour – 20g corn starch – 1 tsp baking soda – 1 tsp baking powder – 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon – 1 tsp cloves – 1 tsp nutmeg – 1 tsp ginger – 230g sugar – 180g light brown sugar – 165g butter, room temp – 1 egg – 312g pumpkin puree – 1 1/2 tsp vanilla – 165g walnuts, lightly toasted & chopped
Directions: makes 30 to 36 1. combine the flour, corn starch, soda, powder, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg & ginger in a bowl, mix well & set aside. 2. preheat the oven to 175°C. 3. combine the sugar, brown sugar & butter in a bowl. Cream together until light & fluffy. 4. add in the egg first, then the vanilla, then the pumpkin, beating the mixture each time until completely combined before adding the next ingredients. 5. add the flour mixture to the batter & beat in until mixed, then add in the walnuts & mix until evenly distributed. 6. using a 1 tbs measuring spoon, spoon out the mixture in heaped mounds & place on a baking tray about 2 to 3 inches apart. 7. bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crunchy on the outside. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Ingredients, royal icing: – 450g icing sugar – 1/4 tsp cream of tartar – 75g egg whites – orange food gel – red food gel – brown food gel
Directions, icing: 1. combine all the ingredients & stir until all the sugar is moistened. Then using an electric mixer or hand held beater, beat on high speak until smooth. 2. tint the icing light orange & seperate out 1 cup. This will be used later for the lines on the pumpkins. 3. continue to tint the rest of the icing until it reaches the desired shade of orange. A few drops of red & brown may be added to help it turn a more burnt orange colour. 4. thin down the icing 1 tbs of water at a time until it reaches a consistency that will allow for a cookie to be dipped & a thin layer of icing to adhere that is still thick enough to not show the cookie underneath.
** if you don’t want to spend the time decorating the cookies, I recommend making them any way, even without decoration they are absolutely delicious. I would go as far as to say, they taste better prior to decorating as the decoration adds a little too much sweetness. **
Ingredients, decoration: – 12 cinnamon sticks cut into thirds lengthwise – fondant – thin piping tip
Directions, assembly: 1. tint some fondant or sugar paste vine green & then using a leaf cutter, cut out 36 leaves. If you bend or fold them a little this will give them a more realistic shape. 2. using the same fondant/sugar paste, roll out small lengths of the dough & wrap it around a drinking straw to form the vines. Set these aside to dry & set. 3. place a wire rack on top of a sheet of parchment paper (this will help for easier clean up later). 4. dip the cookies one by one into the icing, to cover the top of the cookie completely. lightly shake off the excess & then place on the wire rack. Insert a piece of cinnamon stick into the middle of the cookie. 5. once all the cookies are coated, let them dry until the icing loses its sheen. 6. once dry, fit a piping bag with a lining tip & line each of the pumpkins with five or six lines depending upon the size. 7. squeeze out a small blob of icing near the stem to use as glue & insert the leaf & vine. 8. wait until dry & then serve!
Electric Scale - Etekcity - http://amzn.to/2xkKpQk
Hand Mixer - Kenwood - http://amzn.to/2xkjowh
Stand Mixer - Kenwood - http://amzn.to/2yqXPiH
Silicone Spatula - Zyliss - http://amzn.to/2y3Srkw
Non-Slip Pipping Bags - Pastry Gear - http://amzn.to/2fLxAZ0
Pipping Tips - Wilton - http://amzn.to/2yJVPy1
Food Gels - Wilton - http://amzn.to/2kpOCky
Organic GF Vanilla - Simply Organic - http://amzn.to/2xXdt2e
Vanilla Beans - Vanilla Products - http://amzn.to/2yLMqWQ