New Castle News

October 20, 2012

Culinary Conversation: Halloween means sweet treats

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — This time of year, one holiday starts to blend into another.

We’ve all noticed how each passing year, Halloween decorations — almost as popular as ones for Christmas — appear in stores right after the Fourth of July.

I’m not aware of any particular food being associated with Halloween other than pumpkins and caramel apples but there are some devilishly-delightful names of recipes.

There’s witches brew, hobgoblin cookies, demon punch, specter sundaes and haunted hamburgers, and probably any other catchy name you can dream up. For whatever reason, too, doughnuts always seem to make an appearance around now.

Last year at Halloween, Lorrie Boyles of New Castle contributed a type of bread called Samhain Barmbrack to Culinary Conversation. I recall it is a tradition of Ireland.

As Halloween ends, we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas — both of which are steeped in traditions. Perhaps you’ll try something new at the holiday table this year or stick with the tried and true. Whatever the selection is, Culinary Conversation would love to hear about it. Why not share some of your favorite holiday recipes here? From now throughout the entire season, we will publish as many recipes from the community as possible.

Meanwhile, for Halloween, I happened upon a recipe for spell-breaker candy squares. They sound sweet enough to cause cavities. Caramel apples are also a favorite.

Serving a ground beef mixture in a pumpkin doubles as a centerpiece and entrée in one. The recipe calls for a smaller pumpkin — unlike the 770-pound one grown by a family member who has been planting the giant gourd-like squashes for several years now. That’s enough to make a truckload of pumpkin pies. I wonder how much whipped cream would be needed.

Beef in Costume for Halloween

Cut top from pumpkin; scrape out seeds and fibers. Simmer in salted water to cover for about 20 to 25 minutes or until almost tender. Drain. Brown beef and onion in 1 tbsp. oil. Add red pepper, green pepper and garlic. Cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into pumpkin; place lid on top. Brush pumpkin with oil. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour. Let stand about 10 minutes; cut into wedges to serve.

Spell-Breaker Candy Squares

Melt chocolate pieces over hot water. Add remaining ingredients; blend thoroughly. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan. Chill until firm. Cut into squares.

Popcorn Balls

1⁄2 lb. popcorn

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1, 3-oz. package orange gelatin

Prepare popcorn according to package directions; place in large pan. Bring sugar, syrup and gelatin to a boil in saucepan; stirring until sugar and gelatin are dissolved. Pour over popcorn mix until popcorn is completely coated. Form balls quickly with hands; place on waxed paper. Cool. Yield: 18 popcorn balls.

Caramel Apples

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup light corn syrup

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

6 medium apples

6 wooden skewers

Mix milk, sugar, corn syrup and salt in heavy 2-qt. saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly for about 30 to 40 minutes or until temperature reaches 230 degrees or on candy thermometer or until mixture spins a 2-inch thread when dropped from spoon. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool for 5 minutes. Insert wooden skewers in apples; drip in caramel until well covered, tilting pan as needed. Cool on lightly greased baking sheet.