Despite what the kids think, not all Halloween treats need to rot your teeth on contact.
Which isn’t to say the goodies we’ve gathered here don’t have a sweet side. Rather, we decided to take a more balanced approach to our sugar rush. You know, just in case somebody over the age of 12 wanted some.
Start with the spicy-sweet mole pumpkin seed clusters. Think of it as a savory-sweet granola that packs tons of addictive crunch and just a bit of heat (easily adjusted to your taste). It definitely has that potato chip-like can’t-stop-shoving-it-in-your-face quality. Embrace it.
To wash it down, we created a spooky, muddy punch. Sure, it’s jammed with chocolate, but it tastes more fruity than sugary. We kept it simple – and nonalcoholic – in case you’re willing to share it with the kids. But after they go to bed, we suggest adding a healthy splash of light rum.
Next up is a salty caramel makeover for Rice Krispies Treats. A batch of caramel sauce is added to the usual butter and marshmallows. It made all the difference.
Want to take it even farther? Consider adding a caramel bourbon glaze, a sprinkle of sea salt to the caramel topping and candy corns.
Of course, if you feel the need to share these with the kids, you can always leave out the bourbon, or use bourbon extract instead.
And either way, don’t feel you need to limit yourself to the candy corn on top. Have at it with any favorite Halloween candy. It is a holiday of indulgence, after all.
mole pumpkin seed clusters
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus cooling
Cook time: 2 minutes
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 cups flaked corn cereal, lightly crushed
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the almond butter, honey, cayenne, salt and cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the pumpkin seeds and cereal.
Stir to combine, then transfer to the prepared pan. Using 2 spoons, separate the mixture into small clusters.
Set aside to cool.
Per serving: 230 calories; 130 calories from fat (57 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 8 g protein; 160 mg sodium.
Liquid mud punch
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus refrigeration time
Cook time: 5 minutes
4 cups grape juice
Two 20-ounce bags bittersweet chocolate bits
4 cups blueberry juice, chilled
One 2-liter bottle lemon-lime soda, chilled
Shaved chocolate, to serve
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the grape juice to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate bits. Continue stirring until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the blueberry juice, then refrigerate until completely chilled.
In a large punch bowl, gently stir the chocolate juice mixture with the lemon-lime soda. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate just before serving.
Per serving: 320 calories; 180 calories from fat (56 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 36 g sugar; 4 g protein; 20 mg sodium.
Rice Krispies Treats with bourbon caramel glaze
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/2 hours
Makes 24 bars
For the caramel sauce:
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
For the bourbon caramel glaze:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 overflowing teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
For the bars:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
One 10-ounce package marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Coarse sea salt
1 cup candy corn
Start by making the caramel sauce. Remove the label from can of sweetened condensed milk, but do not open the can. Place the can in an 8-quart heavy-duty saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 21/2 hours. Check the pan regularly during this process, adding water as needed to maintain the level.
Using tongs and an oven mitt, carefully remove the can from the pan and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
To make the glaze, in a large bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, salt, half-and-half and bourbon, if using. Use an electric mixer to beat until the mixture is creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Once the can of caramel has cooled, carefully open it. Pour half of it into the butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Set aside.
To make the bars, coat a 13-by-9-inch pan with butter.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the 1/4 cup of butter on high for 30 seconds, or until melted. Add the marshmallows and toss to coat with the butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Add the remaining half can of caramel and stir until smooth. Add the Rice Krispies cereal and stir until well coated.
Using wet hands, gently press the cereal mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Spoon the glaze over the cereal mixture, smoothing it as needed. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt, then scatter the candy corns evenly over the surface, gently pressing them into the glaze. Set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes. To serve, cut into 2-inch squares.
Per serving: 260 calories; 60 calories from fat (23 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 39 g sugar; 2 g protein; 140 mg sodium.