New Tricks for Halloween Treats: Cocktails and Caramel

Using what we have in fall abundance, like those bushels of apples, in unique, tasty and frugal combinations—that’s what being a farmstead chef is all about.

by John D. Ivanko

Using what we have in fall abundance, like those bushels of apples, in unique, tasty and frugal combinations—that’s what being a farmstead chef is all about.

So let’s talk Halloween candy. Tootsie Rolls don’t jump to mind when you think “fresh,” but they definitely qualify as “seasonally abundant” in the weeks after Halloween. Creatively repurposing and making some room for those Christmas holiday treats to come, here are two funky ways we use up our Halloween treats:

Candy Vodka Infusions
As you probably inferred from Lisa’s article in Hobby Farm Home (“You’re Cordially Invited,” Nov/Dec 2011) on making vodka infusions with garden-fruit abundance, she can justify making a sweet-treat cocktail out of just about anything, including Toostie Rolls, Milky Ways and candy corn. Not for the kiddies (though our 10-year-old Liam did donate some of his unwanted excess for his Mom’s experiments), here are some tips to get started:

  • Cut up your candy of choice into as small as pieces as possible to speed up how quickly the candy infuses. Using a 2:1 candy-to-vodka ratio, mix two cups of candy with one cup of vodka in a canning jar. These won’t be “sipping sweet” liqueurs but more like the flavored vodkas available in the store that you’d use in mixed or blender drinks.
  • Shake the jar intermittently until all of the candy is dissolved, usually over the course of two to three days. The color and flavoring of the candy will infuse into the vodka.
  • The infusion will turn the color of the candy, so choose wisely. Candy corn turns the vodka a bright orange; chocolate variations infuse a fudge-like color. If you’re using multi-colored candies such as Skittles or Starbursts, it’s best to separate them and make individual mini-batches with each color.
  • If using candy that won’t dissolve completely (like the peanuts in Snickers), strain the infusion before serving. Store the infused vodka in a sealed container, and use within two weeks.

Caramel-apple Buffet
This homemade, hands-on version of those gourmet caramel apples in the shop makes a fun interactive dessert for a post-Halloween gathering.

  • Chop up or crush candy that would taste good on a caramel apple, like Butterfingers, toffee bars and various forms of chocolate. Jellybeans and other chewy candies are better left for the vodka infusions. Chopped peanuts, granola or crushed graham crackers are also good to add.
  • Slice up some apples and make the caramel sauce listed below—then dunk and dip.

For parties, we like to keep the sauce warm in a 2-quart slow cooker. Use this sauce on top of an apple cake, pumpkin pie, sundae or anything else where a drizzle of sweetness is desired. John likes the leftovers in his morning coffee.

Recipe: Caramel Sauce

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Yield: 1½ cups


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), cubed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, flour and heavy whipping cream. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Mix in butter and vanilla.

Let cool completely. Pour into a clean, sterile jar. We like to use glass canning jars. Store covered in the refrigerator. The caramel will last about one week in the refrigerator (but never that long in our house).

Best heated before serving.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa Farmstead Chef Signature

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