After years of saying ‘No’, I’ve finally capitulated. We are “celebrating” Halloween this year. In the past, I’ve flat-out refused.
“What’s the point in kids knocking on doors begging for lollies? Haven’t they heard of stranger danger?” I’ve questioned. “Why do we need to dress up in macabre outfits?” I’ve wondered.
It seems with each passing year, Halloween is getting bigger in Australia. Pumpkins in supermarkets all set for carving, Halloween bits and bobs in the $2 shops, and entire streets bedecked in cobwebs and black cats, ghouls and ghosts…
This year, the kids got invitations to Halloween parties from their classmates. As luck would have it, we’d already said yes to a Halloween ‘do B’s cousin is throwing. I’ve convinced myself that it’s more about the family getting together than the Trick or Treating.
So why then did I spend the entire morning fashioning a Harry Potter robe out of an old black t-shirt for C2 and stitching a Red Riding Hood cloak out of a disposable red tablecloth for C1? I guess I was getting into the “spirit” of things. 😉
The all-important question: what treats to take to our family Halloween party?
“Brownies!” chorused the kids, as they bit into fluffy white clouds of marshmallows.
“But that’s not Halloween-y!” I countered.
And then, a flash of ‘Pinspiration’ from something I’d seen on Pinterest a while ago. The conical shaped marshmallows would make ghoulish ghosts, perfect for perching atop the brownies.
Here are my TOP TIPS to make brownies that are chocolat-y and chewy inside with a crumbly crust on top.
1) Use the best quality dark chocolate you can get your hands on. Trust me, the chocolate needs to sing, so let it be the diva. Stick to dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 per cent or more.
2) All ingredients need to be at room temperature.
3) Try to stick to white marshmallows. Pink ghosts are too pretty. 😉
4) Do not over bake. I repeat, do NOT overbake.
Chocolate Brownies (adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe)
375 g each dark cooking chocolate (chopped) and unsalted butter (cubed)
400 g caster sugar (the original recipe calls for 500 g)
200 g plain flour + 25 g self-raising flour + 1 tbsp raw cacao powder (the original recipe only calls for 225 g plain flour)
I tsp vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
100 g white choc chips or walnuts (optional)
1 bag white marshmallows
300 g white chocolate, chopped
A few spoons of milk
Black writing icing (I used Queen brand available at the supermarket)
Round chocolate sprinkles for eyes (optional)
Line a large baking pan with baking paper and grease with butter/oil. Heat the oven to 180°C.
On the stovetop, melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat in a heavy-based vessel, stirring constantly. Add a pinch of salt. Keep aside to cool.
Whisk the eggs and essence together with the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Now add to the cooled chocolate-butter mixture.
Sift the flours and cocao powder (if using). Add it slowly to the wet ingredients. Mix well.
Using a silicone spatula, pour and then level the brownie mix into your prepared pan. Bang on the kitchen counter a few times to release any air pockets.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven. Do NOT overbake. You’ll know when your brownies are ready when the top forms a glossy crust, but the middle is still gooey. Turn off the oven and keep the brownies in for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Did I say do not overbake?
Once cool, cut into squares – the brownies will be quite crumbly when slicing them.
To make the Marshmallow Ghosts:
On very low heat, melt the white chocolate with a little milk, stirring constantly to form a thick liquid paste. Take off the heat.
Dab a little melted white chocolate on top of a brownie and secure the white marshmallow in place. Now spoon some white chocolate to coat the entire marshmallow and let it trickle downwards to look like a floating ghost. Set aside to dry for 30 minutes.
Once the white chocolate hardens, add details like the eyes and mouths with black writing icing. You can even use ball-shaped chocolate sprinkles as the ghosts’ eyes, but do this while the white chocolate is still wet so that they stick.
The best part is, you don’t have to be a neat freak with these Ghost Brownies – the drips and drops add to the spooky character.