For some, including former Great British Bake Off contestant Helena Garcia, it's the most spook-tacular night of the year…Halloween! Here she shares some devilishly delicious recipes from her latest book, The Witch-Crafting Handbook, to add a fang-tastic touch to your fright night celebrations!
RELATED: How to make a pumpkin spice espresso martini for home cocktail parties
Inspired by ancient folklore and all things mystical, Great British Bake Off sensation Helena Garcia wowed viewers – not to mention judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith – with her ghoulish baking ideas and creative creepy creations in series 10 last year, however audiences were less than pleased by what many regarded as her premature exit from the tent on week five.
Helena Garcia wowed viewers on The Great British Bake Off
Combining her love of witchcraft with her love of creating her own remedies, accessories and homewares Helena has put together The Witch-Crafting Handbook, her second book (a follow on to last year’s The Wicked Baker), out in time for Halloween trick ‘n’ treating?
"Well, witches are not just for Halloween. And I don't think there are many tricks in this book, all treats! It really is a book for anyone who crafts. From cooking to sewing and all things in between, I believe anyone who is creative in the kitchen, can transfer their skills to other 'crafts'," explains Helena, as she talks exclusively to HELLO! about going from GBBO to a vampire role, the career opportunity that changed her love, her beloved granny and more.
MORE: 12 best Halloween decorations for the house & garden: Door wreaths, outdoor lights & spooky decor ideas
How would you best describe yourself and passion for all things 'wicked and witchy'?
"It really started when I spent my last year of high school in Las Vegas. I experienced Halloween 'American style' for the first time at 17 and it really had a long-lasting effect on me.
"On my return to Europe, I started researching the origins of the holiday, realised it was Celtic, and therefore European. That the Irish immigrants had brought their traditions to the new world and that it seemed crazy it was perceived as an American holiday today. I was on a mission to bring it back home.
"My maternal side of the family comes from Galicia, which is the Celtic area of Spain, where they wear kilts and play bagpipes. There’s a long tradition of witchcraft and paganism in these lands, they also celebrate Samhain, the ancient festival that precedes Halloween so it all made sense to me.
"Witches were just independent women, with knowledge of wild medicinal plants, who acted as midwives and offered 'predictions' or advice. They were feared and therefore persecuted hanged or burnt. I am generally fascinated by the history and the portrayal of witches in art and popular culture. It is all connected."
SHOP: Le Creuset launches coolest Halloween cookware range – and we're obsessed
How did you land what might be seen as a rather fitting cameo role in the 2019 TV comedy/horror series, What We Do in the Shadows, which looked at the daily (or rather nightly!) lives of three vampires?
"That was probably the coolest thing to happen to a baker from GBBO! I think what happened is that people on Twitter started comparing me to Nadja (the female vampire character in the show). And the producers saw it and thought it would be fun to ask me to make an appearance. I didn’t even have an agent when the casting director emailed me. They did make me audition though!
"I was then flown to Toronto and they fitted me into the tightest velvet gown, my boobs were literally touching my neck! It was such good fun, I kept laughing throughout the night (they mostly film at night because you know – it's a show about vampires).
Born and raised in Spain, what influence did your culture – and your Spanish grandmother – have on your fascination with witches, all things strange and obscure, and your baking style?
"Ahhh, my lovely granny Flora. Well, she was simply what I imagine a witch in the middle ages would have been like. Full of interesting tales, knowledge of home remedies (some slightly dubious), she grew food, kept chickens and pigs, cooked everything from scratch, and could crochet and sew. She even had bats in the attic!
"We spent every summer with my grandmother as kids so her influence in my life is undeniable. She sadly died this year at the incredible age of 102. She lived a simple life full of love for her family."
You came to the UK to finish your degree at Leeds University and were later given the chance to take over a beautiful Victorian apothecary. How did that opportunity change your life?
"It gave me the platform I needed to let my creativity run free. There is where I started to develop what now is my brand Witches. From fashion accessories to jewellery, apothecary products and home accessories, all designed for the modern witch.
"I literally did everything in that shop, from the creation of products to marketing, dealing with customers, VAT returns to cleaning. I've worked very hard to now have an original and niche brand that I truly identify with. Chic, stylish with a spooky touch."
CRACKED BROWNIE COOKIES
"A cross between a cookie and a brownie, but with a chilling touch. It's a fairly simple touch mind you, but effective. Not giving the cookies any other facial features apart from the mouth makes them even more creepy, which is always welcome."
- Makes 22–24
- Preparation time 25-30 minutes
- Cooking time 12-14 minutes
- 225g/8oz dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, chopped
- 65g/2 ½ oz unsalted butter, cubed
- 100g/4oz plain flour
- 1½ tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 150g/5oz caster sugar
- 50g/2oz brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- A large handful of chopped shelled pistachios
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- Edible lustre dust in red or black, or both
- 50g/2oz shop-bought royal icing
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6 and line two baking trays with silicone mats or baking paper.
2. Melt the dark chocolate and butter in a microwavable bowl in the microwave, working in 30-second intervals. Alternatively, melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together.
4. In a separate bowl and using an electric whisk, mix the eggs, sugars and vanilla together until fully combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture and keep mixing. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing until fully combined.
5. Drop one heaped tbsp of dough per cookie on the prepared trays, spacing them well apart as they will spread during baking. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios, leaving the mouth area free of nuts, and bake for 12-14 minutes until glossy and crackled.
6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool for a few minutes, but while the cookies are still warm, make an indentation for the mouth in each one, using a ball modelling tool. Leave to cool completely.
7. Once cooled, paint the interior of the mouths with the lustre dust in either red or black, and pipe the teeth with royal icing. Store for up to three days.
MELTING GHOST COCKTAIL
"This is such a fun and tasty cocktail to make for a night of frivolity in the company of your favourite ghouls. Make sure to use small fluted glasses for this cocktail, as the candy floss ghost will need to sit above the drink to avoid it melting before it hits your tongue."
- Serves 2
- Preparation time 10-15 minutes
- 85ml/3 1/2fl oz coffee liqueur
- 85ml/3 1/2fl oz chocolate liqueur
- 4 tbsp single cream
- Crushed ice
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- White candy floss
- Black edible paint
1. Pour the coffee and chocolate liqueurs and cream into a cocktail shaker and add some crushed ice. Shake until chilled and combined, and then strain into two small flute glasses. Grate some nutmeg on top to garnish.
2. Roll the candy floss into a ghostly shape and paint the eyes with black edible paint. Place on the top of each glass, making sure they don’t touch the drink. Melt into the drink before consuming.
WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE GHOST BOMBS
"Last Christmas, the internet was inundated with videos on how to make hot chocolate bombs: basically, a chocolate sphere filled with marshmallows and maybe other flavours. I thought I would do my own version – white chocolate ghosts filled with marshmallow fluff that melt in hot milk. The mold I used is for ice cubes and it works fine for this recipe. It’s available in lots of online shops."
- Serves 2
- Preparation time 25-30 minutes
- 40g/1 1/2oz white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
- Marshmallow fluff
- 500ml/18fl oz whole milk
1. Melt the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl in the microwave, working in 30-second intervals. Alternatively, put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and leave until melted.
2. Pour the melted chocolate into two of your ghost molds, making sure the chocolate covers the entire ghost. You may need to use a brush for this or turn it upside down. Leave to cool and set.
3. When fully set, fill a piping bag with the marshmallow fluff (as it's very sticky), then use to fill the chocolate-lined ghosts. Finish with a layer of chocolate and leave to set completely.
4. Heat the milk in a pan until warm, then divide the milk into two cups and drop a ghost into each. Sit by the fire and enjoy!
Whether you’re a curious witch or you just want to witch-craft your way to a more magical life, Helena's hallmark wicked twists in The Witch-Crafting Handbook, Magical Projects and Recipes for you and your Home, will give you all the inspiration you need to quirk up your home. Obsessed with anything witchy, Helena’s mission is to inspire everyone to live like every day is Halloween.
The Witch-Crafting Handbook by Helena Garcia is published by Quadrille, £15.
Follow Helena on Instagram @helenagarciafp
DISCOVER: 8 haunted hotels for a spooky Halloween staycation