How about some scary spider cupcakes for Halloween tea? Children will love helping to decorate these treats making them as fun or as ghoulish as you like.
Halloween, or All Hallows Eve as it is more correctly known, is a very commercial time of year now, but, although the supermarkets may pile their shelves high with fancy dress costumes, spooky toys and a plethora of “ghoulish” sweets in order to tempt increased sales, the custom of “trick or treating” goes back many centuries, along with many other customs for this time of year.
However, no matter what scary and tasty temptations the supermarkets have on offer, I always like to make my own “spook-tacular” recipes for this time of year, it must be the “big kid” in me! I always try to serve a traditional All Hallows’ Eve Supper of Mash O’ Nine Sorts, as well as some Creepy Crawly Curried Devilled Eggs too!
Halloween is the eve of the 1st November, which is All Souls Day; the 1st November is also the pagan festival of Samhain - the ancient feast that marked the end of the season of the sun (summer) and the start of the season of the darkness and cold (winter). The supernatural elements that abound at this time of year are probably a remnant of the Celts and their belief that the evil spirits came out as the nights drew longer and colder and the barriers between the spirit world and our own was at its weakest…….and, one way of banishing the evil spirits was to light bonfires and make merry around the burning flames whilst feasting and dancing.
“Trick or Treating” is probably a leftover from the religious and old custom of “Souling”, when Christians would visit their neighbours and offer prayers for the dead and in return they would be offered money or “Soul cakes”, little spiced buns, similar to biscuits. However, today it’s the children that dress up and visit their neighbours for treats in order that nasty tricks are not performed! And what better for them to make these scary spider cupcakes for Halloween tea……the cakes can be made with the children in the kitchen and they can certainly get involved with the decorating, which, I love doing when I make these!
The cake mixture is a simple Victoria sponge mixture with some added cocoa and is topped off with a chocolate butter cream. The decorations are made using Liquorice All sorts and liquorice strings/laces (Catherine wheels) as well as some luminous Fried Egg Sweeties for the eyes. They are easy to make and can be frozen before you decorate them. I JUST love these little spider cakes, every time I make them, their faces make me laugh - well, I am easily pleased! Furthermore, they are delicious, and they taste much better than NORMAL spiders I find, as normal spider’s legs are a little too chewy……..and I hope that you and your children will love them as much as me if you make them this Halloween! Have a Ghoulish one!
Scary Spider Cupcakes
(This recipe was originally published in Good Food Magazine - I have tweaked it to my own requirements)
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
50g cocoa, NOT drinking chocolate
4 free-range eggs, beaten
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
Butter cream Icing & Decoration:
100g softened butter
100g icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoon milk
Liquorice allsorts, sweets (Liquorice Catherine wheels, shoe strings, boot laces etc) for the legs & mouths
Fried Egg sweets, for the eyes
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 5
2. Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, cocoa and beaten eggs. Mix on slow with a hand mixer and then increase the speed to medium and then to high. Stop and add the milk, tablespoon-by-tablespoon, whisking in between each spoon until you have a smooth mixture.
3. Spoon the mixture into well-greased muffin tins, or tins lined with muffin cases – I used some brown foil ones.
4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well risen. Take the cakes out of the tin and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
5. Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the butter cream icing. Put the softened butter and icing sugar into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly by hand with a fork before adding the cocoa powder – mix all the ingredients together and then add the milk if you need to loosen the mixture for spreading.
6. When you are ready to decorate the spider cakes, unravel and cut the liquorice Catherine wheels into “legs” that just dangle over the edge of the cake – mine were about 5cms in length.
7. Gently push the legs into the top of the cakes at intervals – the icing will go over the top to keep them in place later, so do not worry how they look! You need 8 legs per spider – of course! Spoon some chocolate butter cream icing to cover the legs. Then place two eyes on the top using the fried egg sweeties, finishing off with a mouth – I used a liquorice allsorts sweet cut into three.
8. Place them all on a plate with some extra sweets scattered around them, and watch the looks of delight (or horror) on the children’s faces when they see them!
Inspired? For more Halloween recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.