2016-10-27 / From The Garden

FROM THE GARDEN

Halloween, Bewitching Treats!
By Cynthia Gibson

Cooking with pumpkins is a real treat! Pumpkins are adaptable to many recipes. You can even plan an entire Halloween party around the “Great Pumpkin.”

Pumpkins make great soups, breads, cakes, containers for stew and stuffing, or as a vegetable, baked with maple syrup and butter.

What is most important is choosing the pumpkin to cook with. The everyday Jack o’ Lantern pumpkins are the worst. Their water content is so high that by the time they are baked, not only is the water missing, so is the flavor.

For baking and cooking pumpkins, select imports. The seeds may be from other countries, but are grown here. The very best pumpkins to cook with are Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina, Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. Cinderella and Fairy Tale have thick, hard, skins and very sweet, delicious flesh.

The Cinderella pumpkins – also known as Rouge Vif d’Etampes – are not only decorative but are also regarded as superior dessert pumpkins in the culinary world.

There have been many pumpkin bread recipes, but thought you might enjoy these mouthwatering pumpkin caramels. After all, what is Halloween without something sugary to nibble?

Halloween Pumpkin Caramels

Makes 144 pieces

1 stick of salted butter
1½ cups of sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup light corn syrup
14 oz. can sweetened condensed
milk
1/2 cup of 100% pumpkin puree
(not pumpkin pie filling from a can;
it will ruin the recipe). You can use
pumpkin puree from a can if you
cannot find a Cinderella pumpkin.
Wax paper
Parchment paper
A candy thermometer

Line a nine-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Make sure it covers the sides of the pan as well.

In a heavy three-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the sugar and spices and stir until blended. Add the corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin, stirring well after each ingredient is added.

While the caldron is bubbling, a friendly ghoul or ghost can help by cutting wax paper into three-inch squares for wrapping the caramels.

Place the candy thermometer into the saucepan and clip to the side of the pot. Wait until the mixture reaches 248 degrees (also known as firm-ball stage).

Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour into the prepared baking dish. When cool, turn the baking dish over onto a cutting board lined with wax paper so the caramel will not stick to the cutting board. Cut the caramels into three-quarter inch squares and wrap in the squares of waxed paper. These Halloween treats are best stored in an air-tight tin.

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