This time of year always seems to disappear into thin air - it's a familiar phenomenon now, and yet it always catches me by surprise. The treadmill of the autumn school term likes to fling me off at half term in a total daze with little recollection of what has happened over the previous six or seven weeks. The immense relief of a week off to slow down is quickly extinguished by the looming threat of Christmas and the building panic that I haven't done all of my present shopping, posted any cards or ordered a turkey by the beginning of November. So I am thankful for the distraction of Halloween and all its ridiculous hysteria. I don't think I ever went trick or treating as a child but the bambinos, at a grand old age of six and four, regard it as a basic human right that each year they have bespoke Halloween costumes, all the plastic, spidery tat in the supermarket, a pre-trick-or-treating evening drinks and nibbles soiree with their friends and then that we accompany them in the cold and dark to demand sweets from all those strangers that we spend the rest of the year telling them not to go near or accept sweets from. Admittedly I have fully indulged this and I embrace it with open arms for two reasons…
1. There is nothing cuter than dressing your children (and, even better, dogs) up as tiny vampires and watching them skip about with their mates in mini, ghoulish gangs shouting “CHICK OR CHEET!”
2. I absofreaking LOVE any opportunity to make novelty food, especially anything with eyes. It is one of the best things about being a mama.
I came up with this recipe at Halloween last year and spent a lot of time congratulating myself for my services to creative pudding names. More importantly of course, the bambinos went currrrazy for it. Tiramisu had always been a favourite in our house, but the addition of a chocolate soil and meringue graveyard caused enduring excitement - the bambinos have been asking to have this again all year.
I used my bambino-friendly, raspberry Tiramisu recipe (using a 600ml tub of double cream, whipped, and a 250g pot of mascarpone) which uses hot chocolate instead of coffee and doesn’t contain raw eggs. I then blitzed a packet of Oreos in the Magimix which I spread over the top of the Tiramisu, and used a basic meringue recipe to make the ghosts which I promise you are not scary to make and if you don't have piping bags you can just use a spoon to make blobs of meringue which will look amazing once you’ve stuck some chocolate chip eyes on them. The skulls, bones and grave stones came about because I had some meringue mixture left and cannot resist a bit of embellishment, but if the idea of anything that fiddly makes you itch then stick with the ghosty blobs!
Meringue Graveyard Bits
3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 level tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp vinegar
Disposable piping bags
Heat oven to 140C/120C fan.
Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar and cornflour.
Ghosts - use a piping bag and cut off the end so that you have a round nozzle about the size of a £1 coin. Pipe ghost shapes onto a lined baking tray (put dots of meringue underneath each corner of the baking paper to make it stick to the tray) by squeezing and pulling the bag upwards as you do, quickly lifting at the end to form the pointy top. OR use a spoon to make ghosty blobs of meringue.
Skulls, bones, grave stones - fill another piping bag but cut the hole smaller so that you can draw out the shapes more easily. Use your finger (dipped in water first to prevent sticking) to help create and smooth out the shapes.
Bake for 1 hour, turn the oven off and leave to cool completely.
Melt some of the chocolate chips and use put a piping bag with a very small cut to use the melted chocolate to stick chocolate chip eyes onto the ghosts and to write on the grave stones. Assemble on the chocolate soil and voila, TiramiBOO!