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How to Make old Time Halloween Candy

Back in the day when we could trick or treat after dark and our parents allowed us to accept unwrapped, homemade candy, we never thought those delectable treats would be considered retro. In the cool night air, we ran to the houses that had the peanut brittle, candy apples, butterscotch drops and popcorn balls. Never did those houses suffer the slings of toilet paper over the hapless maple tree in the front yard. Here are easy recipes for those very same retro treats we remember so fondly.

Peanut brittle

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup peanuts

2 Tbls butter, softened

1 tsp baking soda

Generously butter a large cookie sheet and two forks and set aside. In a heavy bottomed 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a boil, stirring often. Mix in the peanuts. Attach a candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir occasionally until temperature reaches 300* F (150* C) If a candy thermometer is unavailable, the temperature is correct when a small amount of mixture dropped into cold water quickly separates into hard and brittle threads. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and baking soda. Pour onto the cookie sheet. With the forks, pull the peanut mixture into a rectangle about 14×12 inches. Allow to cool. Snap the peanut brittle into pieces. Store in an airtight container or plastic ziplock bags.

Candy apples

1/2 cup water

2 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp red food coloring

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup white corn syrup

10 medium apples such as Red Delicious, Fuji or Gala

10 wooden skewers

Wash and dry the apples. Insert the skewers in the blossom end of the apples (makes for easier handling). Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a heavy bottomed pan. Mix in the water, sugar, food coloring and vanilla extract on medium heat. During cooking, there will be small crystals which form against the edge of the pan. Resist stirring these back into the mix. Use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash away the crystals from the side of the pan. Continue cooking without stirring to the hard crack stage of 280*F. Remove from heat and dip the apples into the syrup. Place on the buttered platter to cool.

Popcorn balls

2 1/2 qts. popcorn, popped

1 14 oz. pkg. caramels, unwrapped

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 Tbls. water

Preheat the oven to 175*. Put the popcorn in a large pan or bowl. Keep it warm in the oven while working. Melt the caramels slowly in the top of a double boiler. Add the corn syrup and water and stir until smooth and velvety. Slowly pour over the popcorn turning with a fork to mix well. Shape into tangerine sized balls. Place on waxed paper to solidify. Makes about twelve 2 inch popcorn balls.

A good way to store the popcorn balls is to spray squares of waxed paper or plastic wrap with cooking spray. Wrap around the popcorn balls and tie with ribbon.

Butterscotch drops

3 6 oz. pkgs. butterscotch-flavored morsels

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1 10 ½ oz. pkg. miniature white marshmallows

2 cups raisins

2 cups dry roasted peanuts

Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with waxed paper, spray with cooking spray and set aside. Mix the miniature marshmallows, raisins and peanuts together in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the butterscotch morsels and sweetened condensed milk in the top of a double boiler. Bring the heat to medium and stir frequently until the morsels melt. Gently fold in the butterscotch mixture into the large bowl. Drop spoonfuls onto the baking pan. Chill until firm (about 2 hrs). Makes about 4 dozen.