31 October 2010

"Knask Eller Knep" (Trick or Treat)


Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon in Norway. It was almost unheard of to celebrate All Hallows' Eve here until probably the late 90s. But it has rapidly caught on as a tradition and it's now quite common (at least in Oslo) to see groups of kids going door-to-door saying "knask eller knep", and shops are full of pumpkins and all things orange and black at this time of year. Not everyone seems to quite understand the tradition, though, as you'll often see kids trick-or-treating a few days either side of Halloween itself; close but no (chocolate) cigar.

Like it or loathe it, when you have kids in the house, Halloween can serve as useful entertainment for their hyperactive little minds. The eldest Nibbler girl will soon be four-years-old so she's at the age where this sort of thing appeals immensely. I can just imagine the thought process and the startling realisation of the implications of this day: "You mean all I have to do is ask for sweets? And then people give me some." I am really thinking of getting her into a 12-step programme for sugar addiction.


So, this year we kept our lights on and actually answered the incessant buzzing of the doorbell for once. It's for the kids, innit. For our first Halloween proper in Norway I decided to make cupcakes. I've had a craving for these things since seeing the glorious cupcakes at Sprinkles in Chicago this summer. I bought some food colouring, hoping to make the icing in lurid, unnatural colours. However, it didn't quite turn out as I hoped for, and instead I ended up with pastel shades of green and yellow. Oh well, they still tasted good.

Ingredients (makes 18 cupcakes)
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened a touch
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
For the icing:
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened a touch
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops food colouring (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (fan oven 150°C)
  2. Line cupcake tray with paper muffin cases
  3. Mix together all cupcake ingredients in an electric mixer until light and fluffy
  4. Spoon mixture into muffin cases and bake in oven for 20 minutes
  5. Let cool slightly in the tin then place on wire rack to cool
  6. To make the icing beat the butter and a third of the sugar in a mixer
  7. Add the next third of the sugar along with a tablespoon of milk and the vanilla extract
  8. Add the final third of the sugar and another tablespoon of milk, adding more milk if needed, and continue to beat until smooth
  9. If using, add the food colouring until you have the right shade of colour
  10. When the cupcakes are cool, pipe the icing on the cupcakes

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