Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spooktacular Treats

What’s Cooking
by Tracy Carpenter

My family and I are always on board for creative and fun Halloween treats.  Although I love to bake, I have discovered that when making treats for a crowd, it’s less complicated to makes goodies that are semi-homemade.  They are just as tasty but less time consuming.  Here are a few of my families favorite Halloween sweets.  Hope you can find a new favorite among them.

Caramel-Chocolate Covered Granny Smith Apples:
5 large Granny Smith apples
wooden craft sticks
1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons
2-3 giant Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars
orange, white and green chocolate disks

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Dip apples into boiling water briefly, using a slotted spoon, to remove any wax that may be present. Wipe dry, and set aside to cool. Insert sticks into the apples through the cores.  Refrigerate 1-2 hrs. or over night.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  If using wax paper, coat with cooking spray or butter.  Place the unwrapped caramels into a microwave-safe medium bowl along with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook on high for 2 minutes, then stir and continue cooking and stirring at 1 minute intervals until caramel is melted and smooth.
Make sure apples are nice and dry or the caramel will not stick.  Hold apples by the stick, and dip into the caramel to coat. I’ve found it’s best to hold the apple at an angle and twirl it in the caramel.  Set on parchment paper; refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set.
Heat the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for  30 seconds, stir and continue routine until melted and smooth. Dip apples into the chocolate to cover the layer of caramel. Return to the parchment paper to set. You may return to the refrigerator if you’d like to speed up the setting time.

Melt the candy disks in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. spoon into a ziplock sandwich bag then cut a hole in one of the corners. Squeeze colored chocolate over apple in any design you wish.  Have fun with it.  Refrigerate until set.

Chocolate Covered Rice Cereal Treats:
3 tablespoons butter
1 package regular marshmallows --or--  4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups rice cereal
wooden craft sticks
green chocolate disks
orange chocolate disks
white chocolate disks
yellow chocolate disks
black chocolate disks
candy eyes
gum balls
mini marshmallows
In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
Add rice cereal. Stir until well coated.Evenly and firmly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray or butter. Cool. Cut into 2 x 3-inch rectangles. Make smaller if you wish.  Refrigerate until firm.
For Frankenstein: Dip craft stick into melted green chocolate and insert into one end of the rice treat.  Allow to set then dip the treat into the green chocolate and cover one side and flip to coat the other side.  Gently bump excess chocolate off into the bowl.  Allow chocolate to set then dip the top into the melted black chocolate and quickly run a toothpick through the black chocolate in a downward direction to create the hair.  Dab a little chocolate on the front and add the candy eyes and gum ball nose.  Insert a toothpick into a mini marshmallow and dip into green chocolate.  You will need two of these.  Allow them to set.  Dip one end into the green chocolate and press on each side of the neck.  Spoon black chocolate into sandwich bag and cut a corner off and pipe a line for the mouth.
For Candy Corn: Cut treat into a triangle.  Dip wide end into melted yellow chocolate, insert craft stick and allow to set in the refrigerator.  Once chocolate is set dip the narrow end into the orange chocolate all the way to the yellow chocolate.  Allow to set the dip just the tip of the triangle into the melted white chocolate.
Mummy:  Dip craft stick into white chocolate and insert in one end of rectangle shaped treat and allow to set.  Dip treat into white chocolate to coat each side and allow to set in the refrigerator.  Dab a little chocolate on the front and place the candy eyes where you’d like them to be.  Spoon white chocolate into sandwich bag and pipe strips of chocolate across the treat creating strips of cloth.

Popcorn Balls:

9 cups plain popped popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Coat a large heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray and place popcorn in the bowl.
Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Place over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260°F on a candy thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until melted and smooth.
Immediately pour sugar mixture over popcorn and stir continuously with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until popcorn is thoroughly coated and cool enough to handle.
Using buttered hands, tightly press mixture into 3-inch rounds. The mixture will still be a little warm.  Place on waxed or parchment paper to cool completely.

Goblin Snack Mix:

cheese crackers
salted peanuts 
Reese's Pieces
honey nut cheerios
cocoa puffs
candy corn
any other goodies you’s like to add

Mix everything together in a large bowl and divide into bags or containers to distribute.  You can also make a Christmas snack mix by adding Christmas colored candies.  The sky is the limit!


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