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Archive for October 17, 2011

HALLOWEEN: Best Candy For Halloween

What Should You Hand Out On Halloween?

We’ve already weighed in on what we think is the best Halloween candy for those who enjoy the best.

For trick-or-treat candy for kids, MSNBC has nominated the five best and five worst of the popular kids’ candies. Their evaluation was based on the saturated fat and sugar content.

  • The Best Halloween Candy: The winners are Jolly Ranchers, Blow Pops, Gobstoppers, Pixy Stix and Candy Corn. We’d add gummi candies, jelly beans and licorice to the list—the first two are fat-free and licorice has just a small amount of fat.
  • The Worst Candy: Mr. Goodbar, NutRageous, Snickers, Baby Ruth and Mounds. So much for thinking that candy with protein-laden nuts is “better” for you!
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    As you scan the supermarket aisles, think of the “better” choices.
     
    Why We Trick Or Treat On Halloween

     

    Candy corn is fat-free, though high in sugar.
    But Baby Ruth and Snickers have as much or
    more sugar—and lots of saturated fat. Photo
    by Liz West | Wikimedia.

    This custom comes to us from the ancient Celts (who date to 450 B.C.E. and were prevalent in Ireland and Scotland from 1500 C.E. to 1800 C.E.). They believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped, and the deceased came back to life and caused havoc. The night was known as All Hallows Even (evening).

    To avoid the ghosts, fairies, demons and other spirits that roamed the countryside that night, people began to wear masks and costumes so they would not be recognized as human by the “walking dead.”

    To keep the spirits away, people also placed candles in their windows, using hollowed-out turnips and other vegetables as the holder (pumpkins are an American tradition).

    In seventeenth- and eighteenth- century Scotland, guisers—people who had disguised themselves from the spirits—would parade from house to house, singing and dancing to intimidate the spirits.

    “Guising” evolved into a masquerade for children, who disguised themselves in costumes and went from door to door for round loaves called soul cakes, fruit and/or coins. They carried candles in scooped-out turnips to light their way. If the guisers were refused a treat, they would retaliate with a prank “trick”—hence the term “trick or treat.”

    According to Magick7.com, traditional tricks in England included stopping up chimneys with pieces of turf, blowing smoke through keyholes and smashing glass bottles against walls.

    Immigrants from the U.K. brought guising to America. All Hallows Even became Halloween.

    The first printed record of “guising” in North America was in 1911. “Trick or treat” first appears in print in 1927.

    And the rest is Halloween history.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Whip Up This Red Candy Apples Recipe

    Candy apples are a Halloween favorite. Photo
    by Margouillat Photos | IST.

     

    Yesterday we published a recipe for caramel apples, also known as toffee apples.

    Today we present candy apples: the same concept, but with a hard, crackly red candy coating instead of the softer caramel.

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    Who Invented Candy Apples

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee/caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coating from that time.

    Red cinnamon candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

     

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

    Red candy apples were once popular trick-or-treat booty. Beginning in the 1960s, they became less popular when news reports scared the public into thinking that sociopaths were inserting razor blades or needles into the apples. (This was later exposed as a hoax.)

    As a precaution, newscasters advised parents that their children should accept only factory-sealed, packaged candy. Candy bar companies jumped on the opportunity to advertise their packaged candies as the “safe alternative” for Halloween treats. Parents would sort through the candies kids brought back to discard any unwrapped, loose treats (and they still do).

    CANDY APPLES RECIPE
    You can whip up a batch in just 20 minutes.

    Ingredients

  • 8 wood craft sticks/popsicle sticks
  • 8 medium Granny Smith or Gala apples
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup red cinnamon candies, like Red Hots, or 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon oil (which we prefer)
  • Optional toppings: Halloween sprinkle mix, candy corn, chopped pistachio nuts
     
    Preparation

    1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. Wash the apples carefully and remove any stems. Stick the apples in boiling water* for 10 seconds, then remove and dry thoroughly—moisture will prohibit the coating from adhering properly. You can do this step first; towel dry the apples, then let them air-dry for an hour or more.

    3. Stick the skewers firmly in the stem ends.

    4. Combine the water, corn syrup and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves; then continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 250° degrees on a candy thermometer. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization.

    5. Once the candy thermometer reaches 250°F, add the cinnamon candies or cinnamon oil and stir briefly to incorporate. Continue to cook, washing down the sides, until the thermometer reaches 285°F.

    6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the candy coating until it is smooth. Hold an apple by the skewer and dip it into the candy, tilting the pan at an angle and rotating the apple to cover it completely with an even layer. Remove the apple and twirl over wax paper to remove the excess, then set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining apples.

    7. Allow the apples to cool. Candy apples are best enjoyed within 24 hours, when the candy coating will be the most crackly. Over time, ambient moisture and humidity cause the coating to soften.

    TIP: If you have leftover candy syrup, there’s no need to waste it. Spoon it into rounds on a wax paper- or parchment-covered cookie sheet until it hardens into red cinnamon hard candy.

    *This removes any wax from the apples and helps the coating to adhere. Alternatively, you can soak them for a few minutes in hot tap water with a dash of cider vinegar, then remove and polish dry with a soft cloth. You can also purchase Veggie Wash, a spray solution that removes the wax from fruits and vegetables.

      

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