Pumpkin spice isn’t something we’re that au fait with in the UK, mainly regarding it a naff flavouring used by well-known coffee chains and wondering what all the fuss is about.
And I was one of the ‘what is that’ crew until last week. Wanting a Halloween bake (or no bake as it turned out) I looked across the pond to give my make that sweet Halloween edge.
I’m not sure why I haven’t used pumpkin spice before. Rich with warming cinnamon, heady ginger, punchy allspice and cloves, plus my favourite spice of all time, nutmeg, it’s essentially autumn in a jar. The cloves and allspice also stop it being too sweet – there’s a peppery spiciness to the mix, which turned out to be a godsend in this Halloween fridge cake. Going all out American I used Betty Crocker’s pumpkin spice recipe, which you can find here (it makes more than you need but you’ll want to use it in everything once you taste it).
We’ve always made marshmallow squares at home. Along with Mars Bar cookies they were some of the first sweet treats my mum trusted me to rustle up myself in the kitchen. Only having one oven and with my housemate baking the same evening (we’re in a baking club) I needed something quick, special and Halloween themed.
Marshmallow squares themselves aren’t too impressive, even if you tart them up with some pumpkin spice. Riffing on another kitchen treat I loved from my childhood I decided to make a quick caramel and then layer on top with some milk chocolate. Millionaire marshmallow bakes? Yep, I’m claiming them as a world first…
These are easy to make, though each layer needs time to set in the fridge, so don’t be put off by the time stated. They can be made a few days before, just top with chocolate the night before at the latest. Each stage is very simple to pull together and bar the hot caramel, these are simple and fun to make with children too.
I’ve suggested using two approx 18 x 25cm dishes here so you can get maximum ‘mallow bites. Please note, I only used one when I made this, so yours won’t be as deep as the picture above. Feel free to make the deep version, but they’re very indulgent and not great for little mouths (or fillings).
Happy Halloween and welcome to the exciting world of pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin spice millionaire’s no bake marshmallow squares
Makes 24 – takes half an hour cooking, but three hours total with cooling
For the marshmallow squares
300g mini marshmallows (all white if you can get them)
50g lightly salted butter
150g Rice Krispies or crisped rice cereal
1 tblsp pumpkin spice (recipe on link above)
For the caramel
100g lightly salted butter
100g soft light brown sugar
2 x 410g condensed milk
200g 32% cocoa milk chocolate
Halloween sweets – pref pumpkin shaped
Butter for greasing
- Grease your dishes with butter and put to one side.
- In a large pan gently melt the butter and the marshmallow and stir together into a big sticky, soft goo. Add the pumpkin spice and stir until it’s all combined.
- Take off the heat, add the Rice Krispies and stir in gently. You don’t want to smash all the Krispies up. Tip an equal amount into each of your greased dishes and smooth out flat with a spatula. It’s sticky, so use a plastic or silicone spatula if you can, or grease your fingers and press down gently. Place in the fridge for half an hour.
- Whilst the marshmallow is cooling put the butter and sugar for the caramel into a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan. Place over a medium heat and gently stir until combined. Add the two cans of condensed milk and drop to a medium low heat. Stir often making sure it doesn’t stick until it starts to boil. When it’s bubbling, drop the heat to low and stir continuously until it starts to thicken (about ten minutes). If you have a sugar or digital thermometer you want the caramel at 102 degrees Celsius. Take off the heat and continue to stir – the caramel will continue to darken and thicken in the pan – you want it a light brown. Continual stirring causes the heat to drop, so it won’t melt your marshmallow when you pour it on. I wouldn’t use a non-stick pan here as you’re going to heat this pretty hot and it may ruin your pan.
- Once the caramel is thick, but you can still move your wooden spoon through it semi easily, pour it onto your marshmallow bases. Use your spatula to once again smooth it out equally. I tend to drizzle it over the marshmallow, moving the pan around so you don’t pour it all in one place. This stops the marshmallows softening too much and you losing definition in your layers. Whatever you want to do, don’t stick your finger in the caramel, you will take your skin off. Let’s leave scares to Halloween costumes and keep them out the kitchen.
- Place the dishes back into the fridge and chill for at least an hour. Ten minutes before you want to put the final chocolate layer on, break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a bain-marie (find out how to do that here). Once melted, take off and stir until the chocolate starts to cool and thicken a little. Pour over the pumpkin spice squares, once again drizzling over until it’s all covered like you did with the caramel.
- Whilst the chocolate is liquid place the sweets into the chocolate at regular intervals. You’re going to use the sweets as your cutting guide, so make them equal.
- Place back in the fridge and chill until the chocolate is set (usually about an hour, but I make these the night before I want to eat them). Once set, cut with a sharp knife and serve to your little (and big) monsters.
If you’d like a recipe with actual pumpkin in (great for using up all those carved pumpkin), then check out my Blue Cheese and Pumpkin pasties here.