Homemade Halloween candy that doesn't stick to a retainer

October 14, 2009|By GRETCHEN McKAY / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Halloween is a favorite holiday for kids, in great part because there are so many decadent, sugary treats free for the taking. And with Mom's approval!

But what if your child is among the 4 million kids in the United States and Canada who wear braces or a retainer? That's really scary when it comes to tricks and treats.

Along with strict directions to brush and floss well and often, orthodontic patients are warned against sticky, crunchy or chewy foods that could harm their delicate (and expensive) hardware.

They're also told to avoid excessively hard snacks such as lollipops, nuts and hard pretzels. In a nutshell, forget most everything that gets brought to school Halloween parties or is tossed in trick-or-treat bags.


Orthodontists stand firm on this. Even if it means being labeled a big ol' meanie.

"They could bend the wires or damage the bracket," explains John Buzzatto, a board-certified orthodontist in suburban Pittsburgh. Which is no small thing, considering a set of braces can run as much as $6,000.

That doesn't mean that kids with braces have to opt out of Halloween celebrations. Parents just have to get a little more creative with the treats they prepare for a party. Instead of caramel or candied apples, for instance, why not thinly sliced apples served with a creamy chocolate dip or flavored yogurt? Rather than popcorn balls or brownies with nuts, how about creamy edible eyeballs made with peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and melted chocolate?

Similarly, why not rethink how you make those much-beloved Rice Krispies treats. It's just as easy to bind the crisped rice cereal with melted chocolate as with marshmallows. Actually, it's easier because it's not as sticky.

Just remember to brush afterward, or your smile could end up resembling that crooked, toothy grin on the jack-o'-lantern.

Halloween eyeballs

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 to 2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 bag (12 ounces) white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1 tube each red, white and green decorating frosting
36 brown M&Ms

Stir peanut butter and butter in a medium bowl until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar until thick and smooth and well combined. Mixture should be thick and easy to roll into balls.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Shape mixture into 36 1-inch balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate with shortening over a double boiler until smooth. Carefully drop chilled peanut-butter balls into chocolate to coat, and scoop them out with a fork, letting excess drip off through the tines (be careful not to stick the balls). Return the balls to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until set.

Squeeze frostings into separate zip-top bags. Snip a very small corner from each bag. Pipe red frosting lines from center out for veins; pipe a dot of green frosting on top. Place M&M in center and pipe a white line on one side of it. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 36 eyeballs.

-- "A Ghostly Good Time" (Filipacchi)

Cobweb cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
Powdered sugar

Beat all ingredients except powdered sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Pour batter into plastic squeeze bottle with narrow opening.

Heat 8-inch skillet over medium heat until hot; grease lightly. Working quickly, squeeze batter to form 4 straight, thin lines that intersect at a common center point to form a star shape.

To form cobweb, squeeze thin streams of batter to connect lines.

Cook 30 to 60 seconds or until bottom is golden brown; carefully turn. Cook until golden brown; remove from skillet.

Cool on wire rack.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until almost crisp (cookies will become crisp as they cool).

Remove from cookie sheet; cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store cookies in container with loose-fitting cover.

Makes 2-1/2 dozen cookies.


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