I’ve probably mentioned my daughter’s view of her healthy, green-minded mother’s take on treats at Halloween. She’s usually less than impressed—even downright embarrassed by my choices for the little ghosts and goblins in our neighborhood. There’s the organic snack-size raisins, the decorated pencils and erasers, the organic pretzels, etc. She sighs and rolls her eyes. “Have you never heard of a candy bar?” she questions. “Can’t you consider a peanut butter cup?”
So this year, I decided to let Heather take the Green Gal taste test challenge on Halloween goodies. My choices come from the New Hope Blogger Box selections that I started reviewing and recommending last month. Remember the Artisan Fermented Honey from Glorybee Foods?
October’s Curated Products from New Hope Blogger Network and Delicious Living Magazine were all contenders for the Halloween crowd, so I sent them home with Heather and suggested she give them a try. I could do this because they are all gluten free, which was, in my mind, the first big plus. And here is my daughter’s review of Zollipops, Made in Nature Mangoberry Figgy Pops and Pure Growth Organics White Cheddar Popcorn.
Zollipops are meant to be “good -for-your-teeth” suckers. They come in six flavors, all of which Heather thought tasty, but her hands-down favorite was grape. According to Heather, “Zollipops were the perfect light, sweet snack at the end of the workday. Easy to bring with me in the truck (She’s a gardener.) and no sugar or gluten.” While she could not testify that they improved her teeth, she sure enjoyed them.
The Figgy Pops were also a winner, in Heather’s opinion. They are not-so-sweet little bits of dried fruit, coconut and nuts (So, yes, there are some allergens here.) that provide quick energy and the satisfaction of having a snack, even though the ingredients are quite healthy. Heather, again, loved the easy transport of the single-serve pouches. Made in Nature is a company dedicated to organic farming and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. Meets the Green Gal requirements, for sure! In fact, we all sampled this treat, which comes five pieces to a bag, and thought it was just yummy… even Don. At an average cost of a $1 a serving, we also thought they were a great deal. I’m sure prices vary depending on where you purchase, though.
Though the Zollipops and Figgy Pops all got gold stars for flavor and product integrity, the number-one winner of the Green Gal Halloween Challenge was Pure Growth Organics individual-size pouches of white cheddar popcorn. Fresh and delicious, as well as really low in sugar! Heather loved this snack, and so did Don. Here’s what I loved—Pure Growth Organics’ statement of commitment: “Pure Growth Organic was created in the belief that organic snacking should be more delicious, more engaging for children, and more accessible for families.” Can you say healthy trick or treat? We checked around a little and the average price was between $5 and $10 for an eight-count carton. Not the cheapest treat, but we think the healthiest one from a great company. We actually did think this was the freshest-tasting pre-popped popcorn we’d ever had. The single-serving pouches are perfect for trick-or-treaters.
So, while all these products met my daughter’s expectation of Halloween treats, Don, as the husband of a food blogger, has come to expect more… homemade… surprises. And I delivered. Since we were spotlighting pork and Papa’s Pasture, I made… drumroll… Bacon Candy! Yeah. And you can make it, too, for your special little goblin. I used my friend Gary’s orange and cherry wood-smoked dark chocolate for this delicacy, but you can make it using all plain dark chocolate, too. Still, if you have a smoker… why not? I will say the orange and cherry woods delivered a much milder smoke flavor than the hickory-smoked dark chocolate I used in the pulled pork recipe, so it really was much more suited to candy. And here is the simply magical transformation from bacon to candy…a little hocus-pocus, please…
Bacon Candy with Smoked Dark Chocolate
One pound thick-sliced bacon, fried crisp, cooled and cut into bite-size pieces
One-half cup mini dark chocolate chips
Two to three tablespoons finely grated smoked chocolate (or add two tablespoons more of the chips and maybe a pinch of cayenne?)
Two tablespoons pure maple syrup
Fry up the pound of bacon, being careful to keep the strips as flat and straight as possible. Once it has drained and cooled, take a sharp chef’s knife and trim off any curled or bumpy sections. You are looking for flat, straight little “plates” that are about one-half inch long on which to build your candy.
Next, melt the chocolate chips (and smoked chocolate if you are using it) in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk in the maple syrup until it thickens, forming a ganache. Remove from heat and continue to whisk a minute or so to smooth out and cool.
Once the ganache has cooled a bit, “frost” each little bacon “plate” with about a teaspoon of ganache and sprinkle with raw sugar crystals.
And that’s it! Super simple, but just the sweet and salty grownup bite that will shriek WOW at your Halloween party or bonfire buffet.