Halloween Treats to Give Away (And Good Enough That You’ll Actually Want to Eat Them Yourself)

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While Halloween is now mostly celebrated as a light-hearted time to dress in costume and eat sugary food, its origins, many historians believe, go far back into the history of Celtic peoples in the British Isles. Apparently, it was a sort of new year, marking the end of the light half of the year, and the beginning of the dark half.  The veil between this world and the other was thought to be thin at this time of year, so spirits could pass easily back and forth. Dressing in costume as an evil spirit, allowed one to escape harm from the real evil spirits, or so it was hoped.  And, of course, Halloween is related to the Christian holiday of All Saints Day, celebrated in Mexico as La Dia de los Muertos (references to All-Hallows-Even date back to 1556 in Britain). Whatever the case, I love it because it is rich in amusing and sometimes frightening visual symbolism.  Witches, ghosts, black cats, skeletons and tomb stones all remind us that life is transitory, and we’d better be ready for what’s next.

In the meantime though, let’s concentrate on the treat part of “trick or treat.”  After the jump, I’ve posted recipes from my archives for five delectable bars and cookies. These recipes are for guilt-free treats you’ll be as happy to eat as you will be to hand out to the neighborhood ghosts and goblins who come knocking at your door .

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Halloween collectibles were gathered by my mother, Marian Alinder. Recipes for five cookies and bars you'll be proud to hand out to trick or treaters, and happy to eat yourself, are after the jump.

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CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY TREATS

(Yields about 2 dozen)

Dry ingredients:

6 cups brown rice crispy cereal

3/4 cup malt sweetened chocolate chips

1/2 cup roasted, chopped peanuts

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup barley malt syrup

1/2 cup rice syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

1  tablespoon cocoa

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Warm the wet ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until just beginning to bubble.

3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir rapidly and make sure all the dry ingredients are evenly coated with the syrup mixture.

4. Allow this to cool slightly, but while still very warm, oil your hands and form this mixture into 1 3/4-inch diameter balls while pushing them firmly together. Place them on cookie sheets to cool.

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CHOCOLATE OR CAROB CHIP COOKIES

The main trick here is to watch carefully and not over bake the cookies!

Yield: 2 doz. 2 1/2-inch cookies

Preheat oven to 350º F

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup roasted, coarsely chopped nuts

1 heaping cup barley-malt sweetened carob or chocolate chips

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut ground in food processor until fine

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup rice syrup

1/2 to 1 cup water or as needed

1. In a large mixing bowl, measure and stir together the dry ingredients.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.

3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well to combine, adding a little flour if the dough seems too wet, a little water if it seems too dry.

4. Form into 24 balls of even size, space evenly on lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking sheets  and press down with the tines of a fork to form 2 1/2 “ cookies.

5. Bake in a preheated 350º F oven 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned  on the bottom.  Switch pan on the upper rack to the lower and vice versa after 8 minutes.  Watch carefully so that the cookies do not burn on the bottom.

6. Remove from oven and cool cookies on cooling racks.

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HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS  (VEGAN AND WHEAT FREE)

Preheat your oven to 325º F  (Yields 15  1 1/2-inch x 2 1/2-inch bars)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup dried apricots or mangoes, chopped

2 tablespoons flax seeds ground in a blender with 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon oil (this represents the egg replacement)

3/4 cup rice syrup or honey (you have my permission to use honey–I used rice syrup because I prefer it’s milder sweetness.  Using honey will probably result in a sweeter bar.)

pinch salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup brown rice flour (or wheat flour if that’s what you have on hand or what you prefer)

3/4 cup additional water

While the oven is warming, spread the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 6-7 minutes to lightly toast them. Oil a 9″x 9″ baking pan.

Blend the flax seeds together in a blender with the water and oil for 2-3 minutes.

With blade inserted, use your food processor to chop the  pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds, the dates, cranberries and apricots. When these are coarsely chopped, add the flax mixture and the remaining ingredients.  Process only just enough to mix all the ingredients.  Take out the blade and knead the ingredients with your hand to insure everything is evenly mixed. Press this mixture into the baking pan, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over the top and bake in a 325º F oven 30-35 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges.  Cool before cutting.  Freeze if you will need to keep these bars more than a week.

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TRAIL MIX COOKIES

Granola in a cookie form.  What could be bad?    Yield: 2 dozen 2 1/2”cookies

Preheat oven to 350º F

Dry ingredients:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats, coarsely ground in food processor

3 cups whole wheat pastry four

1  cup raisins

1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted and coarsely ground in food processor

1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of choice)

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup slivered almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup rice syrup

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup water, or as needed

1. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Liquify the wet ingredients in a blender.

3. Pour the wet into the dry and stir well to combine.

4. Drop dough by generous spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined or lightly oiled cookie sheet.  Flatten with the tines of a fork until the cookies are about 2” in diameter and 1/4” thick.

5. Bake at 350ºF 17-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

6. Cool on racks before storing in air-tight containers

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COCONUT-ALMOND MACAROONS (WHEAT FREE)

Preheat oven to 350º F /  Makes 14-15 cookies

Dry ingredients:

2  1/2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut, plus 1/4 cup coconut for sprinkling on top

1 cup almonds ground to a fine meal in a food processor

2 cups rice flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut milk (thickest part, preferably)

3/4 cup rice syrup

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Measure  the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together well. Measure the wet ingredients into a blender and blend well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stir well.  Let rest five minutes.  Form into balls 1 3/4 inch in diameter.  Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle extra coconut lightly on the cookies. Bake in a 350º oven about 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top and bottom. Cool on wire racks.

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One response

  1. Thank you, Gary, for the information on the history of Halloween. And please thank your mother for sharing the wonderful Halloween collectibles. They are very, very festive and fun! Not to mention the Halloween recipes. Winter is coming, but until it does, there is still time to play! Happy Halloween!

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