You know that I’m a complete Halloween addict. I love all the little bits and bobs that come out around this time of year, and yesterday I was nosing around John Lewis, intending to buy a few baking bits to make my spiced chocolate skeleton gingerbread men (more of these in a second). They have some absolutely gorgeous gifts, decorations and treats for Halloween this year and I ended up buying rather a lot of that stuff too (I mean, mini pumpkin fairy lights, come on!).
I also fell in love with this rather gorgeous soft John Lewis bat soft toy – dead cute and not too scary for littlies…
And for the home, I absolutely love this black and orange Halloween wreath – perfect for the front door.
Also, I had to buy this ice cube tray. I’m thinking of making spooky green ice skulls and crossbones to put in some Halloween punch:
But anyway, enough shopping. You can’t have Halloween without a bit of Halloween bakery (well, not at English Towers, anyhow), and while I’ve dabbled with creepy cupcakes before, I was desperate to make some skeleton gingerbread (or should that be gingerdead?) men. I actually used the same recipe as I do when I make Bourbon biscuits, because it doesn’t spread at all and keeps its shape really well, plus it’s a nice, spooky, dark colour. I added a little bit of pumpkin pie spice (I buy it at Steenbergs), but use whatever spices you like: ginger and cinnamon is good combo.
Spiced chocolate skeleton gingerbread men
You will need:
100g salted butter (room temperature)
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g plain flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie mix (or 1/2 tsp each of ginger and cinnamon)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4-5 tbsp icing sugar
Disposable piping bag
Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 degrees C, then scrunch up a piece of baking parchment (it sits better than way), and pop it in the bottom of a baking tray.
I use a food processor for this, but it is quite easy (if a bit harder work) to do it by hand.
First, beat the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy, then beat in the golden syrup (dip the spoon in boiling water first).
In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa, spice and bicarbonate of soda together and then carefully mix it into the butter and sugar. It takes a while to come together, but be patient, you’ll get there.
Roll it out until it’s about 1/2 cm thick, then cut out your little gingers (I used the lovely gingerbread cutter from my copper cookie cutter set) then lay them out on the paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
When cool, make a very thick icing (you don’t want it to spread too much) with 4-5 tablespoons of icing sugar and a dribble of water, spoon it into your piping bag, snip off the end, then pipe on your skeleton design. It might seem a bit wasteful, but I find making too much icing helps as it keeps the bag full, making it easier to hold.
Absolutely perfect with a cup of tea from my new favourite mug