I always feel like a kid as Halloween draws near, and I’m not alone, as evidenced by the faces of our guests during last year’s Halloween party.
Thirty adults arrived at our door dressed as pirates, ghouls, witches, Roman soldiers, and even a geisha, wearing expressions of sheer joy at the chance to step away from real life for a few hours. I confess, I was a bit surprised, but also delighted by their transformation into kids who hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom for decades.
For years, I’ve lined our driveway with lanterns on Halloween, swept away acorns that always seemed to drop en masse just before the holiday, illuminated the bushes along the sidewalk with tiny orange lights, draped cobwebs over the porch lights and front doorway, and placed a series of jack-o’-lanterns on the steps leading to the door.
Some years, we’ve used smoke machines or a cauldron filled with dry ice, but the best accessory of all has been the small CD player hidden in the bushes, filling the porch with the unnerving sounds of moans, screams, and rattling chains. Add to that my love of dressing up in a long, flowing gown and a horrible mask, and I can truthfully say we’ve had more than a few moms and children run off the porch — screaming.
On the other hand, there’s nothing sweeter than the little ones who approach our door with their parents early in the evening, dressed as princesses, pirates, or their favorite Disney character. For these little trick-or-treaters, I have special bags of goodies, and if the parents are from our block, I’ll give them homemade treats I’ve created for their children. Jack-o’-lantern sugar cookies, caramel popcorn balls, and Rice Krispies Treats lollipops dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles are always popular with our neighbors’ kids — but nothing brings a twinkle to little ones’ eyes like caramel apples do.
Glistening with gooey caramel and drizzled with dark and white chocolate, dipped in nuts or sprinkled with Halloween confetti sugars, I wrap each apple in clear cellophane and tie them with orange and black ribbon. These caramel apples are festive and irresistible, and best of all, they’re very easy to make. Happy Halloween!
Christy Rost is a lifestyle authority, author of three cookbooks, public television chef on PBS stations nationwide, and longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit her website at christyrost.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.
Gourmet Caramel Apples
• 5 large Gala or Red Delicious apples
• 5 wooden craft sticks
• 1 11-ounce bag caramels
• 1 ½ tablespoons water
• 1 cup dark chocolate chips
• 2 squares white almond bark or ½ cup white chocolate chips
• Halloween confetti decorative sugars (optional)
Rinse and dry apples and bring to room temperature.
Insert wooden craft sticks into the stem end of the apples and set them aside. Cover a tray with parchment or wax paper and spray lightly with nonstick vegetable spray.
Combine caramels and water in a small nonstick saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place it on a heatproof surface.
Dip an apple into the caramel mixture, spooning caramel over the top and sides until it’s completely covered. Allow any excess to drip into the pan. Place the apple on parchment paper, repeat with the remaining apples, and chill until the caramel is set.
Microwave chocolate and almond bark in separate bowls at 50 percent power until soft; stir until smooth.
Drizzle chocolate over the apples and set aside to harden. Drizzle white bark over the chocolate and allow it to drip down the apple. Chill apples until the coatings have hardened; then wrap apples in cellophane and tie with ribbon.
Yield: 5 caramel apples