Halloween Candy Time: Part One of Brock’s favorites

What a perfect time of year!!! I love it! I can actually start breathing again because it’s cooling off! So what a better time than to enjoy good food, especially sweets? My mother, Kathy Rogers, is busy booking up cakes this year for Thanksgiving. My mother, as most of you know already, is a skilled cook and cake baker. People have enjoyed her cakes all over Winston County, surrounding counties, and even out of state. I suppose her most popular cake remains her homemade caramel cake, prepared right in her mother’s old black cast iron skillet. Her other popular cakes include her German Chocolate, Homemade Strawberry, and her mouthwatering Coconut Cake with Seven Minute Frosting. My good friends who aren’t from the south—they have no clue what all this goodness is about until I educate them on southern confections. Ha!!! After I let them know all about these lip-smacking cakes, then they can’t get enough of them! Let me know if you would like to order one. I’ll be happy to see if we can work you in for a cake. She is booking up fast! So this was just a glimpse into holiday food around my house! Now let’s talk about Halloween candy! I recently found a few new recipes that you will certainly enjoy! Halloween is almost here! I enjoy all the old black and white horror films with Vincent Price! I like Halloween candy while I’m watching them! I hope you enjoy part one of some of my favorite recipes and some new ones I have stumbled upon. Enjoy readers!!!

Halloween “Mess”

Note: This is so messy and sticky, but oh so good and sweet and salty—oh my goodness! Goodness that can be given as gifts or to your loved ones on Halloween night!

16 oz. pkg. small pretzels

3 boxes of Ritz Bits peanut butter crackers

1 regular can dry roasted peanuts

Two and one half cups sugar

Two and one fourth sticks butter

One and one fourth cups Karo light corn syrup

Four and one half Tbsp. vanilla

3 tsp. baking soda

1 bag regular & 1 bag peanut M&M’s

1 pkg. candy corn

 

Mix pretzels, crackers, and nuts in a large roaster pan. Set aside. Combine sugar, butter, and corn syrup bring to boil and boil for 5 min. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir well. Pour over pretzel mixture. Stir to coat mix well. Bake for 20 min at 250 degrees, stirring once. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper sprayed with Pam. Let cool. Break into pieces and add M&M’s and candy corn. Divide into several snack bags.

Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls

Note: My great grandmother (Mrs. Henrietta Etheridge Eaves, or Grandmother Eaves as we would call her), would always prepare for us old fashioned popcorn balls when we traveled to her house on Halloween night trick-or-treating. She would wrap them up in plastic wrap for us, and we loved them! Here is a great recipe for those old-fashioned popcorn balls we loved!

1 cup corn for popping (to yield 15 cups popcorn)

1 tsp. oil

1 cup water

Half cup Karo light corn syrup

2 cups sugar

Half tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. thick molasses

One and one half tsp. salt

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium/high heat. Once hot, add the popcorn kernels and place the lid on the pot. Increase the heat to high and shake the pot occasionally until all the corn has popped. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Increase the heat to high and boil the sugar mixture until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees (hard ball stage). This will take approximately 15-20 min. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, just boil the sugar for 20 minutes and then proceed. When the sugar mixture reaches the hard ball stage, remove from heat and stir in the molasses and vanilla extract. Pour this over the popcorn and toss well. Sprinkle salt over the popcorn and then toss well. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Lay out a long piece of wax paper on your counter. With buttered hands, form the popcorn into balls and line up on the wax paper. They might appear to fall apart at first, but cup them with your hands until a tight ball has formed. Repeat with remaining popcorn. The popcorn balls will keep up to a week in a sealed plastic container.

Carol’s Peanut Buttery Bark

Note: A great recipe from a friend—this bark screams peanut buttery candy goodness!

1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 (fun-size) Butterfingers, cut into small pieces

8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, cut into small pieces

3 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped

Handful of Reese’s Pieces

Handful of yellow and orange peanut M&M’s, coarsely chopped

Sea salt for sprinkling on top

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Stir chocolate chips in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Pour chocolate onto foil; spread to fourth-inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle). Sprinkle with chopped up Butterfinger candy. Put white chocolate in heavy small saucepan. Stir constantly as it heats over very low heat until chocolate is melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Remove from heat. Dip spoon into white chocolate; wave from side to side over bark, creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s over, making sure candy touches melted chocolate. Top with a little sea salt. Chill bark until firm, 30 min. Slide foil with candy onto work surface; peel off foil. Cut the bark into irregular pieces.

Editor’s note: Brock Wetherly Rogers is an experienced southern food writer, educator, overseas traveler, and passionate student of the culinary and pastry arts. E-mail your comments to him at brockrogers1@gmail.com, or find him on Facebook at Brock’s Bites-Southern Recipes.