What is it about the changing of the seasons that brings out the child in all of us?! I am blessed to have two boys that are full of life and beyond excited about all that Fall brings, but there is something about the word ‘Halloween’ that stops a four year old in his tracks and brings the biggest grin of excitement to his face! With the falling of the leaves brings so many fun activities and we are so excited to have Melody Pierce, one of our very own market vendors and owner of Dough Re Mi Designs Bakery, share her favorite spooky holiday recipes. Read on to find out how to make a fun, easy and delicious treat that will be sure to get you and your family in the Halloween spirit!
I am very excited to be guest-blogging for Shop Small Fort Worth this month! Any day I get to talk or write about sugar is definitely a good day, but writing a blog in October is especially exciting because in all honesty, it’s my favorite month, in my favorite season, and holds what is, in my opinion, the best holiday of the year: Halloween!
At this point, it might be appropriate for me to confess that I am a bit, how should I say, Halloween obsessed. It’s not the scary, gory kind of Halloween I like so much. I’ve never even seen a horror movie. I’m a huge wimp, so…
But it’s the cute “baby sitting inside a hand-carved pumpkin wearing cat ears” kind of Halloween that makes my heart flutter. I mean, let’s just say, that if I was going to be stranded on a desert island and had to choose between bringing Santa Clause or The Great Pumpkin, I’d likely grab The Great Pumpkin and be happily on my way.
Sorry Santa. I probably won’t get any presents this year. I completely understand.
It’s impossible to ignore the general awesomeness of the Fall season. There’s the subtle change in the weather (even if it IS barely noticeable here in Texas), the colors, the excitement of the kids when they pick out their costumes, the lively festivities, the tricks, and of course, all of the treats!
Which brings me to the reason I’m here in the first place. This month, I have a fun and easy recipe that is perfect for festive get-togethers. Commonly called “Buckeye Balls” in my house, this recipe is a favorite of my family’s and is easily dressed up for the Fall and Halloween season. The best part about this project is that you have one easy recipe that will yield two different, but equally cute confections. You can make both the spiders and pumpkins, or just make a bunch of one or the other. The choice is up to you!
Either way, throw on an apron, roll up your sleeves, prepare to get messy and to have some fun!
Making the Peanut Butter Mixture
Melt the butter completely in a small saucepan over low heat.
Combine the melted butter and 2 cups of the powdered sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat until smooth. I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this but if you don’t have one, a hand-held mixer will work just fine.
Add the peanut butter, beating until combined. Stir in milk and vanilla. At this point, your mixture will be pretty thin and fluid. That’s just want you want. Now, let’s thicken it up.
Add the remaining 1 ½ - 1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar a little at a time. Continue mixing and adding sugar until the mixture has thickened to a play dough consistency. You should be able to press the mixture with your finger so that it leaves an indent, but does not stick to your finger.
So, your mixture is made and now it’s time to get rolling…literally. If you have decided to make both spiders and pumpkins, divide your peanut butter mixture and set half of it aside for the pumpkins.
Rolling Your Spiders
For the spiders, you are going to roll two balls of the peanut butter mixture. One ball will be larger and about the size of a silver dollar. This will be the spider’s body. The other will be a bit smaller, about the size of a nickel, and will be the spider’s head.
Place your peanut butter balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Next, grab your bag of pretzels and break off 1 inch sections. Try to get straight sections if you can. Place one piece of pretzel into the center of the larger ball leaving about ½ inch of the pretzel stick exposed. Attach the head by taking the smaller peanut butter ball and placing it on the exposed portion of the pretzel stick.
Oh, these are looking cute already!
This next step takes a little time. Honestly, it’s a bit tedious. But it’s worth it so KEEP GOING!
Use a knife and cut off the 2 rounded sections of one pretzel to make 2 legs. You will need 8 legs (or 4 pretzels) for each spider.
NOTE: I initially began making the legs by cutting off the sections with a nice sharp knife, but alas, I got impatient. Guess what? You can snap off these sections of the pretzels and it works just as well and goes a WHOLE lot faster. I recommend snapping instead of cutting. Just so you know.
With the most curved portion of the “pretzel legs” going into the body, press 4 pretzels into each side of the spider. You may need to snap off small pieces of pretzel from the bottom of some of the legs so that they are flush with the tray. Set your assembled spiders aside. In the end, they should look something like this…
Begin by rolling your mixture into balls the size of a quarter. But remember, pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. So, if you want to up the cute factor, roll them into various shapes and sizes- some large and small, some short and thick, and some tall and thin. Use your pinky finger to make an indentation on the top of each pumpkin. This is where your “stem” will go after you’ve dipped them in chocolate.
Next, take a wooden skewer and hold it vertically next to your formed pumpkins. Firmly press the skewer into the sides of your pumpkins four or five times, moving around the pumpkin with each new impression. Don’t be shy. Make your impressions deep so that they can be seen through the chocolate after dipping.
Place your pumpkins on the baking sheet along with your spiders and place them in the FREEZER for 20-30 minutes.
This is important. DO NOT put these guys in the refrigerator. They will not be cold enough to withstand the heat of the chocolate during dipping and you’ll end up with something like this…
NOT CUTE and thoroughly MADDENING. Trust me.
Dipping the Spiders and Pumpkins in Chocolate
Here comes the fun part! The moment of truth when all of your hard work starts to pay off and your little balls of peanut butter ACTUALLY start to look like something!!
Fill two small sauce pans with about an inch of water in each and bring the water to a simmer on the stove over low heat. Put your chocolate and shortening in a heat-resistant bowl on top of your pot of simmering water and gently stir until your chocolate is completely smooth and melted. You will have one bowl of chocolate for the spiders and one bowl of chocolate for the pumpkins.
Important Note: The shortening is VERY important here, especially for the spiders. It will help to thin the chocolate so that the weight of it doesn’t break the heads and legs off. Your spider chocolate should be fairly fluid and flow easily off a spoon. So keep adding shortening, a little bit at a time, until you get to a nice, fluid consistency. The pumpkin chocolate will be a bit thicker. That’s because you’re using a candy melt rather than chocolate, so it’s okay.
Place a frozen spider on a fork and hold it over the bowl of dark chocolate. Use a spoon to scoop up the chocolate and then gently drizzle/drop it over your spiders until they are fully covered. Holding your fork with the chocolate covered spider in one hand over the bowl, use your other hand to firmly tap the arm of the fork to shake off any excess chocolate. Use a toothpick to nudge your spider off of the fork and onto your baking sheet lined with wax paper. Allow the chocolate to set for 1-2 minutes and then add your googly eyes. They should stick very easily.
Repeat with the remaining spiders.
The process for the pumpkins is exactly the same except you will be dipping them in your orange candy melts. Once you have tapped off the excess chocolate and placed them on your baking sheet lined with wax paper, simply add the pretzel nubs to the top to look like stems and place your green sugar gem sprinkles to look like leaves.
Allow your spiders and pumpkins to set for 30 minutes before handling. No need to put them in the refrigerator. The chocolate will set at room temperature. Once set, trim any excess chocolate off of the bottom of your spiders and pumpkins with a sharp knife and VOILLA! You have two super cute Halloween treats ready to be gobbled up by your favorite ghosts and ghouls!!
Ingredients for Peanut Butter Balls
Makes about 16 spiders and 16 pumpkins
For the Spiders
16oz bag of Semisweet or Milk Chocolate Chips
4+ Tbs. Vegetable Shortening Such as Crisco
1 16oz. Bag of Original Style Pretzels (not the mini size)
1 bag of Wilton Googly Eyes
These may be found in the baking section of any local craft store, or you can find them here.
For the Pumpkins
12 oz. Bag of Orange Wilton Brand Candy Melts
2 Tbs. Vegetable Shortening Such as Crisco
12 oz. Bag of Pretzel Rods (Cut about ½ inch off of each end of the rods to make the pumpkin stems)
Green Wilton Sugar Gem Sprinkles, or any other small green candy
Again, these may be found in the baking section of any local craft store, or you can find them here.
I cannot wait to plan a bake date with my little soon. These precious spider treats are a no brainer for our school lunches! Check back soon for more delicious DIY treats from the fabulous Dough Re Mi designs and be sure to stop by the Shop Small Fort Worth Holiday Market on November 12th & 13th to chat with Melody about all of her amazing services! Tickets are now available for pre-order, so grab a friend and come enjoy an exclusive evening of shopping, hors d’ oeuvres, live music and more at our Preview Night Event. Or join us on our Market Day for hours of fun-filled holiday shopping, food, games, and of course, pictures with Santa. It’s going to be a fabulous weekend! Be sure to check out our Holiday Market page for more details and to purchase advance tick