Styled and Photographed by CINDY COOPWOOD
Bypass the candy aisle at the store this year and try your hand at some homemade Halloween treats that offer something for everyone, young and old. Reminiscent of old-fashioned popcorn balls, the baked caramel popcorn requires a little more work, but is so worth the effort. Balance that with the easiest snack mix you’ve ever made and we’ve got you covered with sweet, salty, and crunchy nibbles. And who doesn’t remember trying to eat huge messy caramel apples when you were a kid? Our answer to that is a do-it-yourself sliced caramel apple bar. It’s a perfect way to keep little goblins busy. Invite the neighborhood over, and use your favorite black and white accessories and your party will be complete!
BAKED CARAMEL POPCORN
5 quarts popped popcorn (about ½ cup of unpopped popcorn)
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Divide popped popcorn in two large bowls for mixing. Over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to boil without stirring for 4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla and baking soda. Be prepared for the caramel to foam up once the baking soda is added.
Pour the caramel evenly in a thin stream over the popcorn in each bowl. Stir and toss until the caramel coats the popcorn evenly. Place the popcorn in a single layer onto 2 large rimmed baking dishes. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely, and break into pieces. Serve and enjoy!
NO-BAKE PEANUT BUTTER BARS
1 pound powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, melted
1 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips, melted
Add powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and peanut butter to a food processor. Process until combined. With motor running, drizzle melted butter into the mixture until evenly distributed and mixed in. Spread mixture into a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet. (We used a half baking sheet.) Melt chocolate 20 to 30 seconds at a time, stirring at each interval until just melted, being careful not to overheat. Pour melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, until completely cooled and set. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. Store and keep in refrigerator up to 5 days in an airtight container.
SIMPLE CHARCUTERIE SKEWERS
This tasty snack can be tailored to your favorite ingredients. Tomatoes, olives, and any cured meats would be great substitutes.
Dill pickle spears, sliced into chunks
Sharp cheddar cheese cubes
Smoked sausage (fully cooked), slices or chunks
Simply assemble one of each on a festive Halloween pick for a kid-friendly charcuterie skewer.
NOTE: Most smoked sausage is fully cooked when purchased, but it may be heated or grilled as desired before assembling.
SAVORY FALL SNACK MIX
What could be better than mixing your favorite savory, crunchy snacks in one big bowl? No extra seasonings or baking needed!
1 bag ready-made Cheddar Chex Mix
1 bag Cheetos
1 bag nacho Bugles
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 box Cheez-its
Mix desired ingredients to taste. Enjoy!
PUMPKIN-SHAPED CHEESE BALL
2 8-ounce cream cheese packages, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package spicy ranch seasoning
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips, crushed
1 bell pepper stem, for garnish
Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ranch seasoning, chopped red bell pepper, and green onions until smooth and creamy.
Place onto plastic wrap, and shape into a basic pumpkin-shaped ball. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
Before serving, roll in crushed tortilla chips. Using the back of a butter knife or similar tool, press indentions into cheese ball to mimic lines of a pumpkin. When lines are complete, touch up outside with additional tortilla crumbs as needed. Make an impression in center of ball and insert bell pepper stem.
Serve with your favorite crackers or chips