Be afraid, be very afraid, but also charmed and delighted by these halloween treats! Soft and pillowy vegan marshmallow on a crumbly chocolate biscuit base, with a blood-red centre (made from jam). These chocolate teacake-inspired ghoulish goodies are the perfect spooky snack this halloween.
There may be fewer Halloween parties happening this year, but I refuse to believe that means that Halloween snacks are redundant. If you still want to make luminous green punch, or skin grapes so they feel a bit like eyeballs, then more power to you. And what better way to keep the Halloween spirit alive than with these really-scary-and-definitely-not-adorable marshmallow ghosts!
Initially, I was feeling in the mood for some shortcuts, and attempted to make the marshmallow by melting down vegan marshmallows in the microwave, then piping onto the chocolate biscuit bases. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen the outcome of this attempt. The melted marshmallow was really unmanageable; it started to set really quickly and became very tough, making it impossible to pipe. To be fair, these prototypes were quite terrifying, but not in a good way…
How to make the chocolate biscuit base
The base is a really straight forward biscuit recipe. You can use vegan spread, coconut oil or vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block, which is an amazing butter substitute). If using coconut oil or butter it’s best to soften first; room temperature is fine on a hot day (unlikely in October), or a few seconds in the microwave.
Mix the fat with a little sugar until you have a smooth paste, then sieve in the rest of the ingredients. I use plain flour and a teaspoon of baking powder, however you could also use the equivalent amount of self-raising flour. Cocoa powder provides the rich chocolatey flavour which is enhanced by the addition of a pinch of salt. This gets mixed together into a dough, then placed in the fridge to firm for half an hour or so.
While the oven is heating up, take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 5mm thick. Use a small cookie cutter, or anything small, circular and hollow to cut circles out of the dough – you want something approximately 4cm diameter. Place the discs on a lined baking tray, mold the scraps of dough together and repeat. I only reuse the dough once otherwise the biscuits can get tough.
Bake the biscuits for about 20 minutes at 160C fan. They should be firm to the touch around the edges – if they are still a bit soft in the middle they will firm up as they cool. Leave on the baking tray for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack to cool. It should only take 10–15 minutes for them to cool completely.
When the biscuit bases are completely cool, put a small blob of strawberry or raspberry jam in the centre of each. You don’t want too much – no more than 1/2 tsp – otherwise the marshmallow might not adhere to the biscuit. It’s best to do this before you make the marshmallow, as the marshmallow is best piped while still a little warm.
How to make the vegan marshmallow
As I have mentioned, my first marshmallow attempt involved just melting vegan marshmallows. This did not work. My second attempt was based on a vegan marshmallow recipe which I found on projectveganbaking.com. This blog is full of incredibly beautiful vegan bakes, one of which is a recipe for flødeboller, a Danish chocolate teacake. This marshmallow was light and airy, and didn’t stick to absolutely everything and then dry like cement, which was a real improvement.
If making marshmallows from scratch, you would traditionally use egg whites and gelatin. Aquafaba (chickpea brine) is an ideal replacement, and whips up just as egg whites do, albeit taking slightly longer. A pinch of cream or tartar, or a drop of vinegar, helps speed up the process and, I find, gives you stiffer peaks.
While whipping up your aquafaba, heat sugar, water, golden syrup and agar agar powder in a saucepan until it’s bubbling. Agar agar is a thickening agent, similar to gelatin, but made from seaweed. If you have a sugar thermometer, heat the mixture to 115C, otherwise it should be ready after bubbling for a couple of minutes.
Once the aquafaba is at the stiff peaks stage and your sugar syrup is at 115C, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the aquafaba bowl, while continuing to whisk at medium speed. It should take a few minutes to pour all of the sugar syrup in – you want to take it really slowly so the syrup is fully incorporated. Then add the vanilla extract, and continue to whisk for 5 minutes as the marshmallow cools slightly.
How to assemble your vegan marshmallow ghosts
Once your finished marshmallow has been whisked for 5 minutes, scoop it into a piping bag (you’ll need a large circular nozzle for the shape of the ghosts). The easiest way to do this is to get a tall and narrow container – e.g. tupperware, a tin, or a high-speed blender cup – that you can put the piping bag in, so it stands up while you spoon in the marshmallow mixture.
Twist the end of the piping bag until the marshmallow starts to emerge from the nozzle. Pipe a large blob, followed by a slighty smaller blob, on top of each biscuit base – you can pipe directly on top of the jam, and provided your jam is reasonably firm, the marshmallow should spread over it. Stop twisting after the smaller blob is big enough, then lift the piping bag upwards to leave a little peak. Repeat on all the biscuit bases, then douse in icing sugar and place in the fridge for at least an hour, to help them to set.
There are a few options for the finishing touches. For the eyes and mouth, you can use black writing-icing if you have it. I had some black gel food colouring so made up a thick icing from icing sugar and water (a few tablespoons of icing sugar and a drop of water to start with, adding more water until it’s a thick liquid). You could also use very dark chocolate, melted. You can pipe writing-icing directly onto the marshmallow, but for the other options, a cocktail stick or a similarly narrow implement is ideal to paint on the features.
What’s really handy about these marshmallow treats is that you do not need any artistic expertise. The more wonky and irregular the features, the spookier the ghosts. And while many bakers see uniformity as being desirable, I like to think that these particular goodies benefit from a little individuality. After all, people are very different from each other, so it makes sense that ghosts would be as well.
For maximum fear-factor, serve in creepy dark lighting with long shadows and bats in the background.
Please let me know if you are brave enough give these a try! I’d love to see your terrifying takes on these Halloween treats. You can comment below or tag me on social media – you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Vegan Halloween Marshmallow Ghost Biscuits
Soft and pillowy vegan marshmallow on a crumbly chocolate biscuit base, with a blood-red (jam) centre
Vegan, Gluten-free option, Soya-free, Nut-free option
- 100g vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block, sub. vegan spread or coconut oil for nut-free)
- 50g caster sugar
- 115g self-raising flour* (or 110g plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder)
- 30g cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
- 250ml aquafaba (2 tins of chickpeas), reduced to 120ml
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar (or lemon juice)
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder
- 30ml water
- 50g golden syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
For the features:
- black writing icing
- OR 4 tbsp icing sugar, ½ tsp water and ½ tsp black gel food colouring
- OR 30g dark chocolate
- Start by reducing the aquafaba. Boil 250ml chickpea brine from 2 tins of chickpeas until it halves in volume (about 140ml as it will reduce a little further when you remove from the heat). Cool and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Start on the biscuits. Soften 100g vegan butter and cream together with 50g caster sugar. Sieve 115g self-raising flour (or 110g plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder) and 30g cocoa powder over the fat and sugar, add ¼ tsp salt, and mix with a spoon, then by hand, until you have a soft dough. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is around 5mm thick. Use a small cookie cutter (approx. 4cm diameter) to cut discs out of the dough and transfer to the baking tray. Squish the left-over dough together and roll out again to get a few more discs – you should end up with about 24. Bake for 20 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Once, cool, place a small blob of raspberry or strawberry jam in the centre of each biscuit (about ½ tsp per biscuit).
- Make a start on the marshmallow. Measure out 150g caster sugar and 1½ tsp agar powder in a small bowl. In a saucepan, measure 30ml water and 50ml golden syrup, and leave to one side. Take the aquafaba from the fridge and transfer to a large, clean mixing bowl along with ¼ tsp cream of tartar, and whisk, either in a stand mixer or with a hand whisk, until you have firm peaks (so that when you remove the whisk, the aquafaba forms a peak that holds its shape). This should take 5 or 6 minutes. While whisking the aquafaba, add the sugar mixture to the saucepan and put over a medium heat. If you have a sugar thermometer, heat to 115C, otherwise let the mixture bubble for 2–3 minutes once boiling.
- When the aquafaba is at the stiff peaks stage and the sugar mix is at 115C, slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the mixing bowl, while whisking constantly at medium speed. You don’t want the sugar mixture to hit the blades of the whisk directly, and if you pour too quickly it may not incorporate. After a few minutes when all the sugar mixture has been mixed in, the mixture should be light and glossy. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract, and continue to whisk for 5 minutes as the mixture cools.
- Scoop the marshmallow into a piping bag with a large circular nozzle, and pipe two blobs onto each biscuit base, lifting the piping bag up after the second blob to form a peak. Sieve 4 tbsp of icing sugar over the piped marshmallow, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
- For the eyes and mouths, either mix 4 tbsp icing sugar with ½ tsp water and ½ tsp black gel food colouring (adding a little more water or colouring until you have a thick black liquid icing), or melt 30g dark chocolate , and use a cocktail stick to paint features on each ghost. If using black writing-icing, pipe directly onto the ghosts.
- Eat immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
*For gluten-free, use the same quantity of gluten-free flour and/or baking powder, with the additional of ¼ tsp xantham gum.