Home FOOD All Things Food & Wine Ready, steady, spook!

Ready, steady, spook!

Jan Kohler, home-chef and author of Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes shares four very creative and unique Halloween treats you can serve on your night of fright … BOO to that!

Black Potion

While the kids are Trick or Treating, keep the adults entertained with this mysterious black cocktail. It’s really a G&T with a ghoulish twist!

You’ll need: 1 tot (15ml) of Black Sambuca; 1 tot (15ml) of classic gin; 1 can of tonic water; raspberries, blueberries and liquorice bits to garnish

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How to: 

In a cocktail glass, pour the sambuca and gin over ice and top up with a tonic of your choice. Garnish with fruit like raspberries or blueberries or even some chopped liquorice bits.

For a pitch-black Gin, drop some black gel food colouring on the end of a cocktail skewer and stir it in.

Monster Pops

Makes 14

Kids just love these bite-sized, chocolate smothered balls of delicious, moist cake. And they’re even more fun at Halloween as one-eyed monsters! You can add any designs or colours to them and even let the kids get involved in the creations. 

You’ll need: 1 vanilla sponge cake (which you can bake or buy); cake pop sticks or skewers;

For the butter icing: 100g of butter, softened; 250g of icing sugar; 25ml of milk; 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

For the chocolate candy coating: 200g white melting chocolate, chocolate discs or “Candy Melts” (or white chocolate); half a teaspoon of white vegetable fat; powdered food colouring

How to: 

In a bowl, crumble the vanilla sponge cake by hand.

Make a batch of butter icing by creaming softened butter with a hand-held blender until it’s smooth and creamy. Start adding the icing sugar in small amounts, along with the milk and vanilla essence, mixing in between, until it’s all blended in.

Combine the icing with the crumbed cake and roll the cake mixture into small balls using the palm of your hands. Insert the sticks, place these on a greased tray and pop them into the freezer, preferably overnight. Freezing helps to firm up the cake pops which makes them much easier to work with.

When you’re ready to decorate them, melt the chocolate in a double boiler – which could be a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of shallow boiling water – ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir frequently to ensure that the chocolate is melting evenly, and when you have a few small chunks left, remove this from the heat completely as the residual heat will continue to melt the rest. Stir in the vegetable fat. At this point, add the colouring if you’re going to use any. Allow the chocolate to cool off slightly, for about 5 minutes, before you begin to coat the cake pops.

Take your cake pops out of the freezer and then, one by one, spoon melted chocolate over them, twisting and turning the cake pop as you go to ensure an even coating. The vegetable fat contributes to a smooth finish and hardens up nicely, and while this is of great benefit, you need to act quickly if you’re going to add any decorations to the cake pop. You want them to stick before the chocolate hardens. Decorate your cake pops as desired and stand them up to dry by sticking them into a block of florists’ foam (oasis) or a polystyrene block.

Poison apples and black brittle

This is my recipe for toffee apples, but the candy you make here can be used for all sorts of candy-coated treats. Not only did we make Poison Apples, but black peanut brittle too.

You’ll need: For the candy: 1 cup of sugar; 1 cup of water; 1/3 cup of golden syrup; half a teaspoon of white vinegar; a couple of drops of black gel food colouring

How to:

To make the candy, combine all the ingredients (reserving the food colouring) in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt. Turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring only occasionally. To test whether it has reached the right temperature, you can use a sugar thermometer or the traditional method. If you have a thermometer, turn off the heat once the syrup has reached 150°C. If you don’t, drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water and if it forms a solid ball, it is ready to use. Stir in some black gel food colouring until you get the desired colour.

For the toffee apples I prefer to use Granny Smith apples as they are firm, but you can use whichever kind you like. It’s very important to thoroughly wash and dry the apples before you start coating them, as any waxiness will stop the candy from sticking to the apple. Insert a skewer into the apple and then dip it into the syrup, twisting so that the entire apple is evenly coated. You can also use a spoon to get to any parts of the apple that are hard to reach. Once well coated, you can place them down a sheet of baking paper and allow them to harden.

With any leftover syrup, you can make black peanut brittle. Depending on how much you have left, add a few handfuls of peanuts and raisins to the pot and stir. If you’d like to make peanut brittle bars, pour the mixture into a greased and lined baking pan and cut it up before it hardens too much. To make peanut brittle clusters, allow the syrup to cool slightly so that you can handle them, and then roll into balls in the palm of your hands. These make a great addition to my spooky Halloween cheese board!

Vegan butternut soup

Serves 8

If your Halloween is spent anything like mine, sitting on the curb greeting neighbours while the kids run around the suburb trick or treating, a cup of soup to share with friends and passers-by will probably be most welcome. And since it’s Pumpkin time, this vegan Butternut soup will be perfect for the occasion.

You’ll need: 1 onion, chopped; 1 tablespoon of garam masala (or suitable curry powder); 1 kilogram of butternut, diced; 1 tin of Coconut cream (400ml); 500ml of vegetable stock; olive oil, for frying

How to: 

In a large, deep pot, fry the onion and the spice in a bit of olive oil. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the butternut. Add the vegetable stock, ensuring that the vegetables are immersed in liquid. Put the lid on and allow to simmer until the vegetables are very tender. Keep checking the liquid levels and don’t let the soup evaporate – add more stock if needed. Set this aside to cool.

Pour the entire mixture into a food processor and pulse until the soup is smooth and free of lumps. (You might have to do this in two parts). Return the soup to the pot and stir the coconut cream through, warming it over medium heat as you go. The result should be a thick, velvety soup.

Serve it with a delicious Activated Charcoal Sourdough to give it a spooky Halloween vibe.

About the book Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes:

In this book, Jan chose to include the recipes people ask her to share most often. “It is my hope the book will be well-used in any mom’s kitchen, but more so, will give other moms the confidence to put on fabulous birthday parties, entertain friends and even entertain large crowds with ease and with the same enjoyment I’ve had. The food in this book will fill a home with people and contentment and will make little hearts happy while parents have fun along the way!” R410 from a bookstore near you or currently on special offer, online, on Loot. (www.loot.co.za)

Follow Jan (@Jan_Kohler_Cooks) on Facebook and Instagram.

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