In case you haven’t got it yet, I love Halloween! Actually I love anything that requires a mixture of food, decorations and an excuse to be creative (not that we need an excuse). And yes I love Christmas too so watch this space, but I promise I won’t get on to that for a few weeks yet!
So after you have carved the pumpkins you need to decide what to do with the pulp. This is a recipe for a very simple soup that requires very little work. The nuts give a lovely flavour as well as texture.
Pumpkin and Almond Soup
Pulp from 1 medium size pumpkin, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, copped
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
750 ml of chicken of vegetable stock
75g of flaked almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
150 ml cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put the chopped pumpkin, onion, garlic, herbs, olive oil and almonds into a large oven proof dish. (Keep a little of the thyme and the almonds to garnish later). Toss well and season with the salt and pepper. Make sure the pumpkin is well coated with the oil. Put into oven for c 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. This may take a little longer depending on the size of pieces. Remove from the oven and place contents into a large saucepan before adding the stock. Bring gently to the boil before adding the cream. Purée the mixture and check the seasoning. Then simply serve into bowls with the remaining almonds and thyme sprinkled on top.
Ok, so if that seemed like the good (vegetable) outweighed the bad (cream) and is just a bit too wholesome for your liking then the next piece will definitely switch that balance around. Despite starting with a lovely bowl of fruit this next recipe will ensure you get good value from your next dental check-up!
16 wooden craft sticks
16 small apples
450 ml or 16oz or 2 cups double cream
450g or 16oz or 2 cups granulated sugar
10 tablespoons golden syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
A cooks thermometer if you have one
parchment lined baking sheet or paper buns cases
(I used flower oasis to place the sticks into but that was just because I happened to have it handy)
First get your ingredients together.
Next push the wooden sticks into the apples.
Prepare ice water bath
Bring the cream, sugar, golden syrup and butter to the boil over a medium heat. Clip thermometer to the pan and continue to cook until mixture reaches 130°c = 250°f or reaches the soft ball stage when dropped in to cold water. This takes about 30 minutes and needs to be stirred all the time and watched very carefully so it doesn’t boil over.
When it is ready, place the pan over the ice water to stop the cooking. You can then dip each of your apples in turn into the caramel.
Transfer to the parchment or place upside down in the oasis before placing them in the fridge. I had some caramel left over which I poured on to an extra sheet of parchment and we had some toffee as well.
Two mistakes I made.
Firstly I underestimated how much the volume would expand and had to transfer to a larger saucepan, not once but twice. Not good for the washing up, which by the way needs to be done asap otherwise the pot is impossible to clean.
Mistake number two? I burnt myself with the caramel which is of course ridiculously hot. Though this was probably just because I tried to turn the caramel apples upside down too soon, I definitely don’t recommend that you let your kids do the dipping bit despite looking like great fun.
Ps whilst trying to bite an apple hanging on a string with your hands behind your back is great fun the photo below shows a (less healthy!) version. Simply place some ring doughnuts on a line of string and a have a competition to see who can finish theirs without dropping it on the ground (and without licking their lips of course!)