Halloween Treats Inspired by Roald Dahl
“Treats were an essential part of Roald’s life—never too many, never too few, and always perfectly timed.” So says Felicity Dahl, Roald’s widow and the compiler of recipes inspired by his popular children’s books. The Revolting Recipes taps into the same whimsical, mischievousness that draws readers into Dahl’s stories—but you can literally eat his words with this cookbook.
Since it’s October—and Halloween just begs for you to create something crazy in the kitchen with your kids—I thought I’d share some ideas from Dahl’s cookbook. But before we get to recipes, I had to share a few tidbits about Dahl’s life.
It would probably come as no surprise that the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory loved candy. And chocolate. As a teen his school in England was next to the Cadbury’s chocolate factory. Sound familiar? Sometimes the factory would send over boxes of chocolate for the school children to test out. He went on to become a fighter pilot during World War II before pursuing a variety of jobs, eventually finding his way to a writing chair to pen the adventures of Charlie Button, James Henry Trotter, Matilda Wormwood and others.
Dahl’s ‘Writing Hut,’ really a shack in the garden near his home, is everything you might expect of an author who turned fairy tales, like Cinderella (Cindy in his version) into Revolting Rhymes. From the descriptions and pictures Dahl’s hut had barely enough room to contain his overstuffed writing chair, desk of curiosities, a sagging lamp and Dahl’s 6’ 5” frame. His biographer, Donald Sturrock, described a visit to the hut with Dahl this way,
“Everything seemed ramshackle and makeshift. Much of it seemed rather dangerous. Its charm, however, was irresistible. An enormous child was showing me his treasures: the green baize writing board he'd designed himself, the filthy sleeping bag that kept his legs warm … and a metal ball made, so he assured me, from the wrappers of hundreds of chocolate bars.”
Let your kids explore Dahl’s Writing Hut here.
Dahl in his writing hut. photo from bbc.co.uk/newsround/14902536
While you won’t find a recipe for a Wonka bar in Revolting Recipes, toffee-apple trees, lickable wallpaper, candy-coated pencils for sucking in class, eatable marshmallows and more do make the list. I tried out the strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge, which makes enough servings for “10 greedy children.” The recipe didn’t quite go as planned. Willie Wonka was known for his genius in candy making—me, not so much.
Strawberry-flavored Chocolate-Coated Fudge
To get the right consistency for the candy you have to bring it up to 234 degrees, stirring all the while so the concoction doesn’t burn. My first batch did. Scorched. I was more careful with my second batch, madly mixing it with a wooden spoon over the stovetop. When it finally reached the right temperature I poured it into the pan; it had the glossy sheen of taffy. In fact, it never quite became solid like the ‘fudge’ pictured in the cookbook. My kids wanted a sample, but I kept telling them the fudge needed to set. An hour later, still no set fudge. So we started brainstorming what we could do with our block of strawberry-flavored sugar. My 8-year-old began pulling at a corner and making pieces of taffy that we then wrapped in waxed paper. Squishing it through her fingers my 10-year-old decided to make herself a fake tongue. We spent an hour together crafting bears, ghosts, bats and oversized tongues with my attempts at strawberry fudge. It’s true, the recipe didn’t turn out as planned, but somehow I think Dahl, who liked to compare the creation of classic candy bars like Kit Kats and Rolos in importance to the Italian Renaissance, would have liked our adventures with the sticky sweet strawberry-flavored taffy.
I’m including the recipe below if you want to try the fudge for yourself—you may have better luck than I did.
Strawberry-flavored Chocolate-Coated Fudge
From Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes
Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2 cups sugar (see why kids like this?)
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces evaporated milk
2 ounces strawberry syrup (like Hershey’s)
4 ounces melted semi-sweet chocolate
Line an 8x8” square baking dish with parchment paper that’s been lightly coated with cooking spray.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan at medium-high heat melt together the sugar, butter, milk, and syrup.
Once the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil.
Boil, stirring vigorously to prevent burning, until the mixture reaches 234 degrees (the recipe suggests a candy thermometer, I used my digital meat thermometer, I hope it still works).
Take the pan off the heat, continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Shape the fudge with cookie cutter then dip into the chocolate. (Alternatively, give up on fudge and make it into taffy.)
Eat with smiling children.
Inspired by The Twits
Instead of Dahl’s recipe here, I came up with my own and you can too. The recipe calls for you to make a chicken potpie and then use pipe cleaners to make it look like birds have literally been baked inside.
I didn’t want to mix pipe cleaners and pie so I came up with another solution browsing the produce section—legs made of kale. The brightly colored kale stalks in yellow and pink work perfectly: use kitchen shears on one end of the stalk cutting in to create ‘feet.’
My suggestion? Use your favorite recipe or one online to make chicken potpie. Then insert the kale bird legs after it bakes. I made my mini-size so each person could have their own…bird.
Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering
Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and
All photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough, except where noted