Halloween is here and so is the candy… I’ve devised some tricks, not treats, to keep the candy calories at bay. Start the holiday by filling a bowl full of yummy, healthful snacks that include pears, apples, and your other favorite fruits and nutrient-dense grab-and-go items. Snack on these instead of the bowl of candy while the ghosts and goblins ring your doorbell. Speaking of that bowl of candy, leave it by the door, on the porch, or somewhere where you can’t easily grab a treat. Even better, get out of the house and walk with your kids or your friends’ kids as they collect treats – you get the benefit of spending time with friends AND getting in your steps!
Now that all of that collected candy is in the house, put it out of sight – maybe in a cabinet or pantry. Small amounts are fine now and then for you and the little ones, but studies suggest that if you put temptations out of sight you are less likely to snack! Also, take the candy out of the Halloween-themed bag or pumpkin and put it into a plain bag. This allows storage that doesn’t call out for you to grab a treat every time you see it. Happy Halloween!
Halloween fun fact: Did you know that pears don’t float? Pears are denser than apples; that’s why we bob for apples on Halloween!
photo credit: www.dartbeat.com
Scary, I know…
To get into the spooky spirit, I decided to create some pear ghosts for Halloween. They were really simple to make, and they would be adorable as party centerpieces. They’d also make a sweet treat for your trick-or-treaters!
To make my Bosc pears ghostly, I whipped up some vanilla frosting. I learned how to make simple homemade frosting from my mom – put powdered sugar in a bowl with half a stick of softened butter, add some milk and vanilla extract, and whip it. I omitted the vanilla this time – I wanted bright white ghosts. You could also use candy coating or maybe white chocolate for an extra-decadent ghost.
Once the frosting was smooth, I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt it a bit. I stuck a wooden skewer into each pear (near the stem) and then dunked each pear into the bowl of frosting. I used a spatula to cover the pear with frosting and even out the coating.
Next, I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave and put the smooth, melted mixture into a small Zip-loc bag. I closed the bag and cut the tip off of one bottom corner. I used the baggie to make my ghosts’ eyes and mouths. Can you tell I started with the guy on the right and finished on the left? The first pear’s scream is more of a goatee. Oops.
I set them out to dry on a paper bag, and voila! Spooky yet sweet Halloween décor.
I got this beautiful cardboard stand at Michael’s Craft Store, and I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart is going to call any minute now to personally congratulate me on this work of art. We added some new candied pears to our collection, and I’m pleased to bring you the chocolate covered pear rolled in toffee:
We also experimented with sprinkles:
And then we sort of lost our minds, as evidenced by this crazy pear and the overall state of our workspace:
All in all, it was a great time and we learned that pears make an excellent candied party offering for kids and adults. Happy Halloween from USA Pears!
The Candied Ginger Chocolate Pear
Who says you have to stick to sticking boring sprinkles and generic nuts on your chocolate covered pears? Why not branch out and use your imagination? It’s not like you have to enter them in the county fair and risk getting a white ribbon and an embarassing comment card from the judge, right?
Visit the recipe section of the USA Pears website
and you’ll see where the inspiration for this little gem came from. What can I say, the spiciness of ginger and the sweet, fresh, pure taste of pears mingle well together. In fact, I’ve heard ginger referred to as the pear’s most complementary flavor.
To make this little treat, just mince a few pieces of candied ginger (usually found in grocery stores in the dried fruit section) and sprinkle it over your chocolate covered pear while it’s still hot and sticky. You definitely want to sprinkle/ carefully place the minced ginger on the chocolate covered pear as opposed to trying to roll it. Poor Alexa found that out the hard way
By the way, a big thanks to my friends Alexa and Jodi for helping me make and photograph these candied pears!
Old Fashioned Red Candied Pears
Back when your great grand-pappy was a kid, trudging twenty-five miles to school everyday in the snow after rising from his cot at 3:15 a.m. and putting in a full day’s work, they didn’t have fancy things like “caramel” or “microwaves.” No sirree, they cooked up sugar, corn syrup, water and food coloring to make old fashioned candied apples and pears. If they were feeling wild, they might have added a touch of cinnamon flavoring.
I personally wanted to leave this particular tradition in the past, but Alexa insisted we take a trip down memory lane and I obliged due to the fact that we were turning her new condo into a candied pear factory.
The candied pears actually turned out gorgeous, and don’t taste too shabby either! Here’s what you do to make old fashioned candied pears:
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup, 1/3 cup water and red food coloring in a small saucepan over medium heat. You can also add red hots or other cinnamon candies if you want. Cook the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. After the sugar dissolves, continue cooking without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 300° (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat and start dipping your pears into the syrup. We actually dipped our pears 3-4 times each, cooling between coats. If the syrup thickens you can always reheat it and keep coating.
The finished product!
Make sure you let these babies rest on wax paper before you arrange them on a serving plate.
Vanilla Salted Caramel Pear
One of our favorite foodie trends happening now is the use of exotic finishing salts. In Portland, we are lucky enough to have “The Meadow,” a shop that specializes in these special gourmet salts from around the world. (Click here to read a recent article in The Oregonian about the virtues of gourmet artisan sea salts. I promise you’ll never look at regular table salt the same again).
If you’re paying attention, you’ve surely noticed that sea-salted chocolate-covered caramels are gaining popularity with chocolatiers. I personally think it’s a great combo and figure that if chocolate, caramel and salt taste great together, why not pears, caramel and salt?
So I called The Meadow and they immediately recommended “Taha’a Vanilla,” a coarse finishing salt that, as the name suggests, fuses vanilla into Pure Halen Môn sea salt. I rushed right over, and after taking a whiff of the bottle I knew it was the right salt for the job! Back at my friend Alexa’s kitchen, we covered the pears in caramel sheets according to the package directions, and while they were still hot and sticky, we rolled the caramel covered pears in the finishing salt. Much to my satisfaction, the fresh, juicy pear balances wonderfully with the sweet caramel and complex flavor of the Taha’a Vanilla!
If your palate isn’t quite ready for this awesome-ness (ahem…Alexa), you can always stick to the old standby…
Caramel pears rolled in chopped nuts
White Chocolate Candied Pear
I’ve decided to enlist the help of my poor, unsuspecting friends to make and post a photo of a different candied pear each day this week to celebrate Halloween. We’re planning to use Forelle pears each day because they are small, beautiful, and well, we have a whole 22 pound box of them! Seriously though, if I were throwing a party for kids and wanted to make candied pears I would use Forelle’s. They are small and sweet enough on their own that you don’t even need to use a lot of sugary coating!
For this white chocolate candied pear, we simply melted white chocolate morsels in a bowl in the microwave, and dipped the pears in about half way. You can get popsicle sticks at any craft store, and then get cute ribbon for the bow. Sweet. Simple. Delicious. Check back tomorrow for another lovely candied pear!