Halloween or Hallowe’en

Well the clocks have gone back one hour, so I guess that summer has offically ended and that is where, according to history, Halloween has its’ origins. It is from the old celtic festival know as “Samhain” which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summers end”

All sorts of celebrations have taken place down the ages at this time of year. The ancient Celts for instance, belived that the borders between this world and the Other World were particularly “thin” at this time of year and the spirits, both harmless and harmful, could pass back through. The family ancestors were honoured and welcome, but harmful spririts were warded off, it is thought, by wearing masks and strange costumes. It was also a time to take stock of food supplies for the coming winter and celebrate the harvest.

The name Halloween or Hallowe’en is shortened from All Hallows Eve which is the night before All Saints Day on 1 November. All sorts of traditions have been handed down through the ages, but nowadays most involve dressing up in scary costumes and masks, carrying lanterns made out of pumkins with faces carved on them and enjoying time eating and drinking with family and friends. Orange and black seem to be the colours associated with Halloween and you see lots of different shaped cookies and cakes iced in this way

A lot of sweetstuff and candy are eaten at  Halloween and I have a couple of family recipes to share – mainly for the children:

Toffe (Candy) Apples

12 ripe eating apples

400g granulated sugar

100g butter

30ml water

oil for greasing

12 wooden skewers

Wash and dry the apples and push a large wooden skewer through the centre of each one. Put the sugar, butter and water into a heavy based saucepan and dissolve the sugar very slowly over a low heat. Once dissolved, bring to a fast boil and continue to boil until the small crack stage (140 degC)  Dip apples one at a time into the toffee and place on a greased plate and leave to set.  Red apples look wonderful coated with shiny toffee, you can also sprinkle them with coconut or crushed nuts before the toffee sets

Treacle Toffee (Bonfire toffee)

Oil for greasing

100g butter

100 black treacle

150g soft brown sugar

30ml water

Pinch of Cream of Tartar

Grease a 15cm square tin, Put the butter, treacle, sugar and water into a heavy based saucepan and let the sugar dissolve over a low hest. Add cream of tartar, bring to the boil and boil to hard ball stage (120degC).  Pour the toffee into the prepared tin and, when beginning to set, score the surface deeply making squares.  When set, break up, wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin. (Cooking time approx 20 minutes)

Hope you all have a great time celebrating with friends and family!


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