Evil will be abroad on the evening of October 31 as ghosts, demons and witches roam the land. But don’t worry — they are only the neighbourhood kids dressed up to celebrate Hallowe’en.

It is the Irish and the Scots that we have to thank for Hallowe’en. It was part of ancient Celtic religious celebrations in the AD 800s. At the end of the northern hemisphere summer, the Celts held a big party to scare away the ghosts and spirits they thought would wander the earth at the end of the season looking for food.

Later the Christian church named the day All Hallows' Eve and established All Saint's Day on November 1 so people could continue to celebrate the pagan festival as they had prior to Christianity. 

Irish immigrants to the United States popularised Hallowe’en during the 19th century and the annual celebration really took off. During the 20th century rituals like pumpkin carving and ‘trick or treating’ became an essential part of the fun.
So on October 31 be ready for a knock on the door. If your callers’ request for treats such as cookies, candies, apples or oranges is turned down, then you can expect more than a bad look. You have been warned! 


1 litre popped corn
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Place the (fresh, if possible) popped corn in a large bowl and stand in a warm place. 

To make the toffee, place the sugar and water in a large heat-proof jug eg 2 litre Pyrex jug. Microwave on high (100%) power for 2 minutes. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking in 1 minute bursts for about 4 minutes, until the mixture starts to turn golden. It will continue to cook after removing from the microwave.

Pour onto the popcorn slowly, tossing with a fork. Cool slightly, but while still warm, form the popcorn into balls about the size of tennis balls, pressing the mixture together gently but firmly.

Cut 9 pieces of waxed paper into squares — about 30cm. Place a popcorn ball in the centre of each square. Gently gather the paper around the balls. Tie with white cotton.  

If you want to suspend the ghosts, thread some more cotton through the top of the paper and secure with a good knot. Makes 9 ghosts.


Chocolate chunk cookies are decorated with an icing web. ‘Writing icing’ in a tube could also be used.

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
Web: 2 cups sifted icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons hot water
28 tiny chocolate buttons

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla essence together until smooth and creamy. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Beat well. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place about 5cm apart on the baking paper. Bake for 5 minutes until golden. Cool on the tray.

Combine the icing sugar with enough hot water to produce an icing that can be piped. Place in an icing bag or tube fitted with a fine nozzle.

Pipe 6 lines from the centre of each cookie to the outside edge an equal distance apart. When set, make 2 lines of icing between the lines — one around the outside edge and one a little nearer to the centre. Place a tiny chocolate button in the centre. Makes 28.


1 packet lime jelly crystals
1 1/2 cups boiling water
8 baked tartlet shells
1 cup thick custard
cupcake decorations eg black bats, ghosts, pumpkins etc.

Prepare the jelly according to the packet instruction but using just 1 1/2 cups of boiling water.

Cool then refrigerate for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Place the tartlet shells on a wire rack placed on a tray. Fill with the custard.

When the jelly mixture reaches egg-white consistency, spoon over the tartlets. Chill.

Decorate just before serving. Makes 8.


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