Day of the Dead biscuits
Celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead festival or Halloween with these spooky cookies – go wild with colourful icing and decorations!
For the biscuits
- 175g cold slightly salted butter, cubed
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 500g royal icing sugar, plus a little for dusting
- 500g pack ready-to-roll white sugarpaste or fondant icing
- food colouring pastes in a variety of colours, you’ll need red for the roses and black for the eyes and mouth
You will also need
- skull cookie cutter (ours was 12cm x 8cm)
- small round cookie cutter (about 1½ cm) or use the end of a piping nozzle
- To make the dough, tip the butter, flour and a good pinch of salt into a food processor. Blend until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, and the butter is well mixed in. Add the icing sugar, egg yolk and 2 tsp cold water. Blend again until the mixture starts to clump together, add another 1 tsp water if the dough looks too dry, but try to avoid adding any more, as this will make the biscuits tough. Tip the crumbs out onto a work surface and squash everything together to make a ball of dough, you may have to knead it a few times for an even texture. Wrap in cling film, pat into a flat disk and chill for 30 mins.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment. If the dough is very firm, leave it at room temperature for 10 mins, or until softened a little. Dust your work surface with flour, then unwrap and roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin. Stamp out as many skull shapes as you can, then squash the scraps of dough back together, reroll and stamp out a few more. Arrange the skull shapes over the trays, bake for 18-20 mins, until just golden, swapping the trays over halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly. Leave to cool on the trays for 10 mins, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Whilst the biscuits cool, prepare the icing. In a large bowl, mix the royal icing sugar with enough water to make a thick icing. Divide the icing into as many bowls as the number of colours you’d like to use (you’ll need to colour 1 batch black for the mouth) then use the food colouring to colour each a vivid shade – a tiny drop of the food colouring paste goes a long way, so start with a little, then add more if you like. If the icing is too thick to pipe, add a drop more water. Transfer each colour to a separate disposable piping bag and secure the ends (clothes pegs do a good job of keeping the ends closed.)
- Break off 50g of the sugarpaste and set the rest aside, wrapped in clingfilm (This will prevent it from drying out and cracking.) Use the red food colouring to dye the small lump of sugarpaste red, kneading until evenly coloured. To make the roses, take hazelnut-sized balls of the red sugarpaste, and press them into long slim oval shapes on the work surface (roughly 1cm x 4 cm, use a little icing sugar on the surface if it gets too sticky.) Roll up the sugarpaste from one end to create a rose. Whilst still on its side, cut off the bottom to give you a flat base. Continue with the rest of the red sugarpaste until you have about 20 roses (enough for 4 biscuits.)
- Clean down the surface, and dust with a little extra icing sugar. Roll out the remaining sugarpaste to the thickness of a 50p piece, then cut out as many skull shapes as you have biscuits. Use a little of one of the coloured icings to stick the sugarpaste skulls to the biscuits.
- Scrunch any sugarpaste scraps back together and dye the ball of sugarpaste black with the black food colouring, kneading until you have an even colour. Roll out the black sugarpaste and stamp out circles for the eyes (use a round cutter, or the end of a piping nozzle.) Stick the eyes and roses to the biscuits with a little of the coloured royal icing. Snip off the corner of all the piping bags to make a tiny opening and decorate the biscuits as you wish – flowers, hearts and dotty designs all look good. Leave the biscuits to dry for 1 hr before serving. The decorated biscuits will keep for 3 days in a sealed container.
These freaky edible fingers are naturally sweetened with dates – perfect for a spooky spread at a Halloween party for children
- 250g stoned dates
- 100g dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons, chopped
- 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 3 tbsp porridge oats
- flaked toasted almonds
- Tip all the ingredients except the almonds into a food processor and pulse until you have a rubbly looking mixture.
- Line a tray with baking parchment and mould the mixture into fingers, then lay them on the tray. Press an almond ‘fingernail’ into the end of each finger and place in the fridge to harden for at least 1 hr. Serve poking out of a bowl.
If you’re looking to whip up some ghoulish goodies with your little monsters this Halloween, this frightfully fruity recipe perfectly fits the bill
- 6 apples
(we used Braeburn)
- juice ½ lemon
- 100g white chocolate
- White chocolate squares, stacked
- 50g puffed rice
- jelly worm sweets (optional)
- Core the apples, starting at the base and trying to keep the stalk ends intact. Use a blunt table knife or melon baller to scoop out any remaining bits of seeds and core if you need to. You can also use a metal skewer to make 1 or 2 holes in the sides. Brush the cut parts of the apples with lemon juice and put on a plate or board.
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt. Once melted, stir in the puffed rice, then remove from the heat. Using a teaspoon, pack the chocolate and puffed rice mixture into the apples, sticking a few into the smaller holes and on the top to look like they’re crawling out. Transfer the apples to the fridge for around 20 mins to set.
- Spoon any remaining mixture into a mini muffin tin lined with paper petit four cases and put in the fridge to set along with the apples.
- Once the chocolate has set, peel away the paper cases and put the ‘maggot balls’ around the apples. Add a few wriggly jelly worms too, if you dare.
Frozen banana ghosts
Bananas taste spookily like creamy ice cream when frozen in ghostly robes of white chocolate – quick and easy, with just 4 ingredients
- 200g bar white chocolate
- White chocolate squares, stacked
- (supermarket own brand Belgian is good), broken into chunks
- 4 medium-large, ripe bananas
- 85g desiccated coconut (you won’t use it all)
- handful dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons
- In a small bowl, gently melt the chocolate either in the microwave – in short bursts on high or over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water). Set aside for a moment while you get the bananas ready.
- Peel the bananas, cut in half, and push a lolly stick into the middle of each piece. Spread the coconut out in a shallow bowl. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment, and make sure there is room for the tray in the freezer.
- Using a pastry brush, coat a banana half in chocolate, letting excess drip away. Sprinkle with plenty of the coconut until coated, then set it on the prepared sheet. Now add two chocolate eyes and a mouth, and if you like, cut a few little eyebrows from the chocolate drops too. Freeze the lollies for at least 4 hrs, and up to a week.
Read also: 5 Halloween food ideas