Yes, that is actually a picture of me in my “piggyback” costume my mom made. Behind me is my sister working the apple bobbing station. Oh the memories…
This year for Halloween, I wanted to try my hand at creating a healthy version of the Halloween treats my mom used to make my sister and I back in the day. Some of the best Halloween memories I have are when we lived on the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. My mom went all out, but it helps that my sister’s birthday is close to the holiday. She decorated the house in fake spider webs with little fake spiders and other spooky decorations. She didn’t leave it at that; mom spoiled us with homemade treats like chocolate molds, caramel apples, and a traditional pumpkin shaped cake to the nines.
It was kinda a big deal. Apparently somewhere down the line there were costume contests as well. Here’s a picture of possibly my first Halloween costume (definitely my first contest) dressed as a ballerina/mouse.
This year she is up to her old tricks (tricks, get it?) whipping up dishes that are supposed to look so gross that my sister won’t touch them. She’s even talked my dad into slipping on an old costume she made him years ago. Since I can’t be there for this ghoulish gathering, I’ve requested several pictures. She sent me the one below last night. That girl is good. I might have to share what she sends me later in an update.
Feeling nostalgic, I have been really excited and nervous to make chocolates like my mom made us as kids. The excitement quickly turned to frustration when things started falling apart. The recipe I wanted to use called for coconut oil, coconut butter, and a select few ingredients (pureed berries, vanilla extract, lime juice, etc.) to jazz up a batch to your preference. Since I didn’t have the coconut butter, we just used coconut oil, which was said to be fine.
The directions start off having me melt the coconut oil in a double boiler and then pour it into a bowl. From there, I mixed in my ingredients (coconut oil, cocoa powder, strawberries, and a pinch of salt) that were supposed to flavor the chocolates.
After everything was mixed together, it was spooned into molds. I didn’t have fun Halloween molds on hand, but I did however, have my trusty Ikea ice cube trays and an old silicone valentine cake dish.
To harden the chocolates, they were supposed to be refrigerated for 30 min. I made these before bed, so they chilled
like a villain all night. When I tasted them in the morning, I was sorely disappointed. I could have used more cocoa. Pureed fruit would have left a stronger more blended flavor, and the coconut oil was well…prevalent. It tastes about as good as it looks.
That brings me to my much more successful attempt at making healthier caramel apples. The recipe (from 101 Cookbooks):
6 – 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
It is extremely important for the apples to be unwaxed and cold so that the caramel doesn’t completely slide off. Before diving into making a little slice of Halloween perfection, there is some prep work. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water, wash the apples and insert the sticks, and set up a baking tray lined with parchment paper for the apples to cool and harden.
To make the caramel, add the heavy cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook until bubbles start to form on the edges of the pan right before it begins to boil and pour in the honey.
Bring the mix to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Here is where you put in a little muscle. Start stirring while in an active simmer for 15-20 min or until the temperature reaches 255-260 degrees.
When the caramel is ready, move the sauce pan carefully to the bowl of water to rest and quickly cool the cooking process. Then, take the apples and start twirling them in the homemade caramel. If the caramel in the sauce pan begins to harden, heat it back up for a few seconds on the stove.
Getting the caramel to stick was the tricky part for us. Ryan actually set them outside briefly to harden them faster. The house was a little warm with the flurry of cooking.
Overall, I am pleased to say this was a much greater success for me, and the chocolates weren’t a complete waste. Or so I tell myself. They are all in a freezer safe bag now to preserve until later. In an effort to right a wrong, Ryan and I have tossed some new DIY ideas back and forth that we think these chocolates could go to. Boom or bust, I’ll let you know.
As much as I will miss my family today as they gather around endless sweets, it was nice to bring Ryan into some of my old favorite Halloween traditions. I love so much about this holiday with the sweet treats, fall weather, and nonsense costumes. The same fun we had as kids transpires into adulthood and we all get an excuse to cut loose and play dress up. And with that, I’m backing away from the computer and leaving you with these Halloween gems of myself and some of the coolest gals I know.
My phone was on a Halloween overload keeping up with family through the day. Costumes aside, these are just some of my favorite snacks my mom created this year. Prepare to be inspired.