Saturday, 3 November 2012

Dear Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990),

Please do me one favour.

If it's not too much trouble, could you please rise from the dead, brush yourself off, and write a Halloween version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

It doesn't have to be a big deal, I don't need a whole new novel or anything. I just want to know what the man who invented lickable wallpaper and coconut ice skating rinks would do with All Hallows' Eve. Write me a list.

Gummy ghosts that burst out of your tummy to scare trick-or-treaters?
Witches' masks with lickable lollipop interiors?
Licorice leprechauns that sing real Irish deedle-dee-dees on your tongue?
Boysenberry blood to drip down the walls?
Marzipan zombies complete with bubblegum brains?

I could use the seasonal pick-me-up. You see, one of the few drawbacks to living in an apartment building is that trick-or-treating is not part of the culture. My building is very antisocial, and that's (usually) the way I like it. But come the early days of November, there's something sad about not having leftover sweets to nibble.

This is a false lack, though. New Zealand has not traditionally been a Halloweeny nation. We've only recently caught on to the idea, and so I never had a childhood of late October sugar-puking. Nevertheless, I feel cheated! Where is my bag of tooth-rot? Where is my tummy ache? Where are my piles of discarded wrappers?

If I can't feed on the spoils of actual Halloween hunter/gathering, then I shall manufacture the same effect. Sorry Mr. Dahl, I know it's not in the spirit of Charlie to simply go to the supermarket. "Charlie on Aisle Four" would have been an uninspiring novel. But I want to create a post-Halloween recipe, and I'm willing to buy things to sit in as 'leftovers' if I must.

So let's pretend I was given pretzels, M&Ms, marshmallows, and all manner of other glucose goodies the other night. Oh dear, how shall I ever use them up? How about dumping them all in a crazy kiddie cookie? Rereading your books makes me feel nostalgic anyway, so kiddie food can only amplify the effect. Time for regression cookies!

Bonus: things you find out when you research Roald Dahl:
  • He was married to the lady who played the wealthy client of George Peppard's gigolo in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
  • The chocolate espionage storyline in Charlie was based on the real rivalry between Cadbury and Rowntree's. Intrigue!

Regression Cookies

Adapted from Nigella's Chocol-oat Cookies
Makes 24


1/2C flour
3/4C oats (the fat juicy kind, not the instant porridge kind)
3tbsp cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking soda
100g butter, softened
1/4C caster sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1 egg

Mix-ins - fill two cups total with your choice of:
Mini marshmallows
White choc chips
Dark choc chips
Crushed pretzels
Cocoa pops
Salted peanuts
or anything else you have on hand


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter with the sugars. Beat in the egg. Sift over the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix in the oats.

Here comes the fun bit!

Fill two cups with whatever crazy kiddy candy makes you feel nostalgic. Use Halloween leftovers. Or, if you're a grown-up and you didn't go trick-or-treating, steal some candy from a baby. Whatever works. Mix your gathered/stolen candy into the biscuit batter until it's a sickening swirl of artifical colours.

Scoop out tablespoons of mixture and roll them into flattish discs. Arrange twelve to a baking tray and bake in two batches, for 15 minutes each batch. They'll come out looking slightly composty, and decidedly unphotogenic, but they'll taste like childhood.

Serve with milk and pledge to have salad for dinner.

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