Photo credit: Flickr
Now, Halloween is just a couple of days away… achingly close to an eve of jack-o-lantern carving, toffee apple bobbing and one of the most inventive fancy dress occasions of the year. A couple of things I do find however are the following…
1) Pumpkins can be a bit intimidating. They’re pretty unavailable for most of the year and then suddenly Halloween comes around and they pop up here there and everywhere. Few people know how to treat a pumpkin right… until recently, I definitely never knew what to do with all the left over gunk!
2) I always have high hopes for Toffee apples, but they usually actually end up being a pretty sickly, all-round disappointing affair which are highly difficult to break into!
The following two recipes hope to rectify both of these rather first world problems and provide you with some inspiration. So, first: Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds!
For the Salted Caramel Seeds you will need:
The seeds from one pumpkin
3tbsp light brown sugar
Sprinkle of Sea Salt (The Cornish Sea Salt Co. is my personal favourite)
- Scoop out the seeds from your pumpkin. You’ll need to separate the gunk from the seeds and so simply fill a large bowl with water and pop it all in. The goop should sink to the bottom and leave the seeds on top. Use your fingers to separate them and place the seeds to one side.
- Get a pan really nice and hot before adding your seeds. Toast them, stirring now and then until they start to turn a golden brown. Take one out and try it, if it’s crunchy instead of soft, they’re done.
- Add your butter.
- Add your sugar and keep stirring until it turns to a golden caramel. Sprinkle your rock salt on, and you’re done!
Note: You can make delicious pumpkin soup with the actual pumpkins if they’re not too damaged following ambitious carving attempts!
Secondly, Triple Chocolate Halloween Apples:
These are pretty much the easiest thing in the world to put together and at least in my opinion, look far more impressive than their caramelly cousins…
You will need:
2x100g bars of good quality dark (Lindt’s dark chocolate with sea salt is pretty darn yummy!),
1x100g bar white chocolate
1x120g bar milk chocolate.
- Take a few of your favourite apples (Braeburns work well… but most sharper varieties complement the sweetness of the chocolate beautifully), and use a sharp metal skewer to poke a hole into the top of the apple down to about halfway through.
- Push a square-edged wooden skewer into the hole you’ve just made, being careful not to push it too far down into the apple.
- Melt each of your different types of chocolate in a bain marie, taking care that the bottom of each bowl doesn’t touch the water. Carefully coat each apple in melted chocolate, making sure that the excess chocolate drains off. If it’s too thick, it doesn’t set anywhere near as prettily!
- If you want to dip the apples in extras (think cacao nibs, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, sprinkles) wait until the chocolate has almost set before doing any dipping!
- To decorate with little ribbons of melted chocolate, cut a circle of parchment paper, then fold it in half once to make a half circle, and then twice more to form a small triangle. Fill up the little pouch with melted chocolate, fold over the top, then trim a tiny snip of paper off the end of the paper pouch to form a piping bag. Draw a few lines of chocolate onto a board to test the flow of chocolate, then just go mad! I think that layering up thin ribbons of different coloured chocolate makes the most beautiful effect.
Note: Good quality chocolate melts better than cheaper bars. I tried coating an apple with melted Galaxy chocolate, and it wound up thick, lumpy, and a bit dull-looking… Lindt bars aren’t vastly more expensive, but you end up with a far more beautiful and smoother finish.