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Janine Gilbertson’s Granite Kitchen: Halloween treats that aren’t very tricky |

Janine Gilbertson’s Granite Kitchen: Halloween treats that aren’t very tricky

Years ago, when my kids were younger, Halloween was always a busy time. I remember scrambling around to find last-minute costume accessories, making treats for classroom parties and taking the kids trick-or-treating in all kinds of weather, including snow.

Things aren’t so busy now that my kids are older. However, a few months ago, we moved into a new house and our neighbors have informed us that Halloween is big in our neighborhood. Apparently crowds of monsters, goblins, witches and ghosts roam the streets looking for Halloween treats, so we need to be prepared.

Since my younger son is almost 16, trick-or-treating is not on his agenda this year. Instead, he’ll have some friends over and they’ll pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Having a bunch of teenage boys in charge of candy might not be a great idea (I’m picturing them eating more than they hand out) so I came up with a few no-bake, easy to make treats to keep them away from the candy bowl.

If you’re looking for a fun way to make some colorful confections, candy melts are an excellent choice. They come in all kinds of colors and all you have to do is melt them in the microwave, then dip or drizzle whatever you want to coat.

I dipped pretzels in orange candy melts and added a little green stem (a cut up gum drop) so they looked like little pumpkins. As they were hardening, one of my kids came in and dropped a couple of candy eyeballs on the top, which actually made them even cuter.

You can take a package of Oreo cookies and pulse it in a food processor with a block of cream cheese and make a fast, delicious dough that you can roll into balls and coat with black candy melts (or chocolate). This makes a fantastic truffle-like treat that you can turn into a creepy spider by adding some strips of black licorice and some candy eyes.

Popcorn balls are perfect for Halloween gatherings, especially when they’re made with candy corn. A little marshmallow cream mixed into the syrup used to make the balls gives them a nice flavor twist, and a drizzle of melted chocolate or bright candy melt adds some sophistication and color.

I’m hoping these treats will distract the boys from eating the candy they’re supposed to hand out next week. I wouldn’t want any disappointed goblins in my new neighborhood.

Chocolate Truffle Spiders

15 oz package Double Chocolate Oreo cookies

10 oz package cream cheese

10 oz package black candy melts

1 oz package flat candy eyeballs

7 oz package black licorice 

Place the Oreos in a food processor, breaking in half as you go. Cut the cream cheese into 5 or 6 pieces and add the to the oreos, then pulse several times until the cookies and cream cheese are well combined. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the licorice into thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long. (The strips will be used for spider legs.) Melt the candy melt according to package directions. Take about a tablespoon of Oreo mixture and roll it into a ball using the palm of your hands then set on the wax paper. Gently press 4 strips of licorice on each side of the ball, then spoon the black candy melt over the top of the ball, spreading evenly to coat. Place two candy eyes on the front of each ball. Set the spiders in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the candy melt to harden and the Oreo dough to set. 

Pretzel Pumpkins

16 oz bag medium size pretzels

10 oz package orange candy melts

16 oz package green gum drops

1 oz package flat candy eyeballs, if desired, for decoration

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. 

Melt the candy melts according to package directions, then dip the pretzels in the candy melt to coat and set on the wax paper.

Use a sharp paring knife to cut the gum drops into stem shapes and set the stems on top of the pretzels at the indentation to mimic pumpkin stems. 

If desired, decorate with candy eyes, then allow the pretzels to harden for at least an hour before serving. 

Marshmallow Fluff Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

This recipe uses easy-to-find pepitas, the shell-free seeds from specific varieties of pumpkin.

12 cups plain popcorn, popped

1 1/2 cups peanuts

1/2 cup pepitas 

1 oz package jumbo black nonpareils 

2 cups candy corn

1 cup marshmallow creme (such as Fluff)

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 stick butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp melted chocolate, if desired, for garnish

Line two baking sheets with wax paper and set aside. 

Pour the popcorn, peanuts, candy corn and pepitas in a large bowl and set aside. 

Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, marshmallow creme and salt in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil for two minutes, continuing to stir. 

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. 

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir with a spatula to ensure the mixture is evenly coated. 

Allow to cool until the mixture and be formed into balls about the size of a baseball. 

To form the balls, lightly coat your hands with butter to prevent sticking and gently press the popcorn mixture together, then set the balls on the wax paper. Allow to sit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the balls have hardened slightly.

Once hardened, drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired, and allow to set for an additional 10 minutes before serving.


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