Sunday, 6 November 2011
I am in my absolute element this time of year. Nothing gets me more excited than the prospect of themed food. Ghost meringues for Halloween! Toffee and chocolate apples for Bonfire night!
The feeling of achievement when you finally break through the hard toffee layer to the juicy apple within is, in my head, likened to hitting oil. "I'm in!".
Recipes after the break
Ghost meringues - makes around 22 [from Joy of Baking]
4 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon Dr Oetker cream of tartar
200g caster sugar (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dark chocolate, to decorate
Before starting, wipe the inside of the bowl and the beaters with a little lemon juice on a paper towel, to get rid of any grease which will prevent the meringue from whipping properly. Preheat the oven to 105C.
Beat the egg whites on a low-medium speed until foamy, and then add the cream of tartar. Continue beating at a medium speed until the eggs reach soft peaks. Add in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition for a couple of minutes, until all the sugar is added and the meringue has stiff, shiny peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Using a piping back with a plain circle nozzle, pipe tall mounds of meringue, finishing with the little curl on top. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour, or until dry to the touch. Leave to cool on a rack. I added a nice opalescent shine to my 'ghosts' by spraying lightly with Supercook's edible silver spray.
Melt the dark chocolate and, using a toothpick, draw on eyes and a mouth. Spooky!
Toffee apples - makes about 8
400g caster sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp golden syrup
Heat the sugar and water together in a pan over a medium heat, and heat until the sugar dissolves. At this point, add the vinegar and golden syrup. Using a sugar thermometer, heat the sugar syrup until it reaches 140C, or 'hard crack' stage. If, unlike me, your lovely mother hasn't bought you a sugar thermometer, you can drop a small amount into a bowl of cold water - it should harden instantly and be brittle, hence 'hard crack'.
Swirl the apples into the toffee and set aside on baking parchment to set. With regards to sticks, use whatever's handy - I went for forks because I couldn't find lollipop sticks anywhere. If you feel your teeth are up to in, dip the apples in a second time for a thicker coating. Enjoy!
Tip: For a professional finish that's sure to impress, cover the apples in a cellophane bag and use a bit of ribbon to tie a bow around the stick/fork.