No tricks in making these fun fall treats

October 30, 2013 

Candy apples make the perfect Halloween treat. JULIAN BRUNT/Special to the Herald

Halloween is tomorrow, and youngsters will be trunk or treating in some cities or plain old trick or treating from house to house or attending fall festivals or hallelujah festivals at churches.

Where has October gone? I think I am a week or two behind. I saw a sign for a pet event at a Coast store and thought, "we should take Sadie," only to realize the event was last weekend.

Have I made any treats or bought candy for Long Beach's trunk or treat? You know the answer: no. Tonight, though, my daughter and I are going to make popcorn balls and caramel apples, two favorites in our house. My husband was even asking if I was going to make the popcorn balls.

When we were kids in Texas, Allen and I used to go trick or treating with a bunch of friends. Our moms would drive and stop at each house. At some of the homes, everyone would pile out, including moms, for apple bobbing or just to feast on some scrumptious treat. Back then, homemade treats were the norm and not to be feared. Now, we have to inspect even the wrapped candies our children and grandchildren receive. How sad.

Shopping for candy is also on my to-do list. Trunk or treats require lots of candy.

If Halloween treats are lacking in your home, too, here are our favorites. The caramel recipe is one from a 2005 Cook's Country magazine, the popcorn balls, from an old Betty Crocker cookbook and the caramel corn with variations from "The Pillsbury Cookbook" from 1989. The caramel corn can be formed into balls, too, or simply eaten as a snack. These really are fun and easy to make, but if the kids are helping don't let them burn themselves on either the caramel or the syrup for the popcorn balls.

CARAMEL APPLES

Makes 6

Note: Freezing the

caramels for 10 minutes will make it easier to remove their wrapping.

2 cups crushed Kit Kat, Twix or Heath candy bars (My favorite is Heath, but Elyssa likes Twix)

6 small apples (Granny Smith or McIntosh work best)

1 (14-ounce) bag soft caramel candies

1/4 cup heavy cream

Prepare apples and candy bars: Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place crushed candy bars in shallow bowl. Insert craft stick into stem end of each apple.

Melt caramels: Heat caramels and heavy cream in medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.

Coat apples: Holding 1 apple with stick over pot of caramel, spoon sauce over apple to coat, allowing excess to drip back into pot. Roll apples in crushed candy, pressing to help candy adhere. Place apple, stick up, on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining apples and serve. (Apples can be refrigerated for several days; bring to room temperature before serving.)

-- From Cook's Country, October/November 2005

OLD-FASHIONED POPCORN BALLS

16 cups popped popcorn (1 cup unpopped)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter

Put popped popcorn in a large roasting pan with at least 3-inch high sides or similar sized bowl (sometimes we use 2 pans to fit all the popcorn). Combine all ingredients except popcorn and butter in saucepan. Cook on medium high until the mixture reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and add butter. Pour caramel over popcorn, stir to coat evenly (quickly, before the caramel starts to harden), butter hands to keep caramel from burning your hands, and form into balls.

-- From "The Betty Crocker Cookbook"

CARAMEL CORN

6 cups popped popcorn

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted if desired

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

Arrange popcorn in a 13-by-9-inch pan; sprinkle almonds over popcorn. In large saucepan, combine brown sugar, water and corn syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches soft crack stage (280 degrees). Stir in margarine and cook to 280 degrees again. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and salt. Slowly pour over popcorn and almonds' toss until coated. Spread on foil or waxed paper to cool. Store in loosely covered container. Makes 6 cups.

Variations

Popcorn balls: Follow recipe for caramel. After tossing mixture to coat, used buttered hands to quickly and firmly press mixture into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap.

Oven-baked caramel corn: Heat oven to 250 degrees. Arrange popcorn in a 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan; sprinkle almonds over popcorn. In large saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, corn syrup and margarine; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and salt; mix well. Pour over popcorn and almonds; toss until coated. Bake at 250 degrees for a total of 35 minutes; stir after baking 15 minutes. Stir again after baking 30 minutes. Remove from oven; spread on foil or waxed paper to cool.

Microwave caramel corn: Combine popcorn and almonds in large microwave-safe bowl. In 4-cup microwave-safe measuring cup, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt. Omit water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes; stir. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Stir in baking soda; pour over popcorn and almonds. Mix well; microwave syrup coated popcorn on high for 2 minutes. Spread on foil or waxed paper to cool.

-- From "The Pillsbury Cookbook" 1989

Fuyu persimmon recipes

Mrs. Walters of Gulfport, Miss., wants some recipes for Fuyu persimmons. She said they are so sweet and crisp like an apple. They also are hard like an apple, and some like to peel the fruit. Her pastor's wife, Mary Seymour, gave her a cake recipe, which she said was great, but she would like some other ways to use the fruit. Readers, please send me your recipes using Fuyu persimmons.

Sourdough and faro

Please send in recipes that use sourdough starter, such as cakes, sweet flat breads and the like. Readers also have asked for faro recipes. Now that Halloween is almost here, it is time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. Please send in your recipe requests and also favorite recipes to share with fellow readers.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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