Local chefs serve up some festive-themed food and drink delights
Food has a special place in all our hearts, and you won’t be surprised to discover that Northern Ireland is home to some of the freshest and tastiest fine food and exemplary chefs.
With Halloween fast approaching, there is no better time to take some tips from local cooks and get creative in the kitchen with spook-tacular baking and magical cocktail recipes.
So, whether you are planning the perfect party for friends and family, showing off your culinary skills to trick-or-treaters or in need of some light activities to keep the children entertained over mid-term, Discover Northern Ireland has some fang-tastic treats for you to get your teeth stuck into!
Mary Anne Mackle, Wee Buns Cookery School and Bronagh Duffin, Bakehouse NI have shared some delicious recipes to ensure your Halloween goes off with a bang!
Frighteningly wonderful baking ideas from Mary Ann Mackle, Wee Buns Cookery School
Nestled in the beautiful Co Tyrone countryside, outside Moy, life-long local foodie Mary Anne Mackle is waiting to welcome visitors with her range of inspiring cooking and baking classes.
This fun experience caters to all skill levels, so whether you are a total novice in the kitchen or a more seasoned cook, there are classes to suit; ranging from traditional Irish baking to creative cake making and decorating, as well as the ever-popular kids’ classes.
All ingredients, recipes and refreshments are already there waiting for you, so you can arrive empty handed – although you definitely won’t be leaving that way, as whatever you make is yours to take home.
To help you get started, Mary Ann has put together the following festive recipes:
Halloween Cookies (Makes 25 cookies)
- 250g plain flour sifted (plus a little more if needed)
- 95g butter
- 75g light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- Royal icing sugar to decorate
- Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan.
- Put the sugar, golden syrup and water in a small pan and bring to the boil stirring all the time.
- Add the butter and bicarbonate of soda and stir until well combined and the butter melted.
- Sieve the flour into a bowl and then stir in the hot butter mixture. Mix together until you have a firm, smooth dough. If it seems a bit soft add a little more flour.
- Chill for about 20 minutes until firm enough to roll out.
- Lightly flour your surface and roll the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin.
- Cut out the cookies and place on the baking trays (lined with baking paper).
- Bake in the hot oven for 7 – 10 minutes until lightly golden.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- When cool, decorate as desired with royal or glace icing.
Ghost Buns (Makes 12 large or 24 small)
Ingredients for the buns
- 110g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 100g buttermilk or natural yogurt
- 50g sunflower oil
- 110g hot water
- Tiny pinch of salt
Ingredients for the Vanilla Buttercream
- 125g soft butter
- 125g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Small chocolate chips or silver balls to decorate
- Heat oven to 180C / 160C Fan.
- Sieve the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
- Break the egg into another bowl and add the buttermilk, oil and hot water and mix well together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until just combined.
- Pour the mixture into a jug (it is a wet mixture) and fill the bun cases two thirds full.
- Bake for 10 – 15 minutes (or a bit longer for larger buns) until set.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, whisk together the icing sugar, butter and vanilla until really light and fluffy.
- Then using piping bag and plain nozzle pipe the icing onto the buns. Keeping it in the centre and tall. Just use a spoon if you don’t have a piping bag.
- Decorate with chocolate chips or silver balls for eyes.
Sumptuous sips and indulging delights from Bronagh Duffin, Bakehouse NI
Autumn is a wonderful time of year for foraging, and if it sounds like something you might be interested in trying, then Bronagh Duffin has got you covered.
From her home in Bellaghy, Bronagh helps her guests turn fabulous local, seasonal ingredients into delicious dishes, with an array of courses on offer from bread making, cake decorating, kids classes and even a zoom cookery class.
Most significantly though, Bronagh believes foraging for scrumptious local food to bring back and use is an amazing opportunity to get outside and bring tastes and scents to the kitchen table.
So, if you are in the mood for going on a hunt for blackberries or sloes to make a delicious festive gin, followed by cosy afternoon making jam and scones or cakes beside a crackling fire, look no further than Bakehouse NI.
To allow you to create some good grub at home with your own hands this autumn, Bronagh has provided these tasty recipes:
Barmbrack, a gorgeous Halloween Loaf
- 250ml cold tea
- 60ml whiskey
- 380g dried mixed fruit
- 220g plain flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 120g light soft brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- Make up a pot of tea, allow to cool and pour 250ml of the tea with the whiskey over the fruit. Allow to soak overnight.
- Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and break in the egg. Mix the egg in before adding all the fruit and soaking liquid.
- It is traditional to add a ring to the mix. Add the wet dough to a 1lb lined loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at 170*C (fan 150*C).
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin. Wrap for 2 days in clingfilm before cutting. Best served spread with butter.
Scribe Moss Sloe Gin
- 500g of sloe berries either pricked or frozen and defrosted over night
- 250g of caster sugar
- 1 litre of gin
- Wash and sterilise a wide necked Kilner jar in the dishwasher or oven.
- Wash and dry the sloes and either prick them with a sharp fork or freeze and defrost.
- Add the sloes to the jar followed by the sugar and the gin.
- Seal the jar tightly, shake well and keep in a cool dark place.
- Shake the jar well daily for a few weeks and then only once a week for around a month or two before serving.
For more information on great places to visit and for things to see and do this Halloween – check out www.discovernorthernireland.com.