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No Tricks, Just Treats

Homemade Halloween goodies are perfect for ghoulish gatherings

During Halloweens past, fun for children often meant going door-to-door in their neighborhood and, along with candy, receiving homemade goodies like popcorn balls, candied apples and cookies.

Today, with concerns about safety foremost in parents’ minds, many folks opt to send their children to festivals or parties instead of down the street. And, as in the neighborhood where I live, where trick-or-treating still goes strong, the prizes are mostly factory-wrapped candies.

I cannot imagine today’s protective parents allowing their kids to eat, much less keep, a home-baked treat deposited in their children’s bags, unless they know the benefactor personally. But homemade Halloween delicacies are perfect for gatherings.

Costume parties for adults (who are really just children at heart) are just as popular and numerous as kid-friendly harvest festivals. One of the best such gatherings I’ve attended had a variety of ghoulishly themed appetizers that displayed the hostesses’ creativity.

Seeing those fantastically decorated hors d’oeuvres inspired me to make an almond-based candy that would look good on a Halloween party tray, for adults or children. I based my recipe on one for buckeyes, those chocolate-dipped peanut butter bonbons that resemble the nut from the state tree of Ohio.

If you’d rather make the Almond Pumpkins with peanut butter, which is oilier, increase the amount of powdered sugar by a cup or so.

Almond Pumpkins

1 1/2 cups almond butter, smooth or chunky
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
Whole roasted almonds
2 to 3 cups white candy chips, or 3 to 4 squares white bark coating
Red and yellow food coloring

Combine almond butter, butter and extracts in bowl and blend well. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix thoroughly, until dough becomes firm and not sticky, but not too dry. Shape into about 1 1/2-inch balls. Push a roasted almond into top of each ball vertically, with the fat side down, to form the stem of the pumpkin. This will push your sphere into a more oval pumpkin shape. When you’ve formed the last one, cover all and place in freezer until firm, at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to dip pumpkins, melt candy chips or bark coating according to package instructions. Add food coloring (using color guide on box for orange—or about a 2-to-1 ratio of yellow to red) and stir well. Adjust coloring to get a shade of orange you like. Working swiftly, dip pumpkins into coating and place on waxed paper surface to harden. Allow candy to come to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 dozen.

Servings: 36. Serving size: 1 pumpkin. Per serving: 239 calories, 2.5 g protein, 14.2 g fat, 25.1 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g dietary fiber, 14 mg sodium, 13 mg cholesterol

October 2010 Recipe Contest