by Jeri Westerson
Halloween. What mystery writer doesn’t like this particular holiday? Heck, I start my decorating promptly on October 1st, because not only do I like the visions of skeletons and skulls, of black cats and black bats, of witch’s brews and cobwebs, but here in southern California it means that fall weather is just around the corner. And after our hot, dry summers, a cool, breezy day is a welcome sight.
When my son was little I made my share of spooky cupcakes, with frosting ghosts atop them; “finger sandwiches” that looked like fingers for Halloween night when we had to eat on the go, either answering doors or escorting the kid through the neighborhood. Some were a variation on pigs in a blanket, wrapping the Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough around the hot dog to make it look like a mummy’s wrapping, and dipping it in bloody ketchup!
But one recipe that was always sure to please at any time, not just Halloween, was my Caramel Corn. You will need a candy thermometer, a big oven-proof bowl, and a big jellyroll pan (baking sheet with sides). It’s an easy recipe. You just need to allow yourself a little time. And with the candy coating, you need to watch the pot and the temperature.
Keep popcorn warm in a heat-safe bowl in a 200 degree oven. Combine the rest of the ingredients—EXCEPT baking soda—in a pot on medium/high temperature, and boil until it reaches 255 degrees on your candy thermometer. Remove from heat, add baking soda. It will begin to foam. Stir to combine. Then add the mixture to your popcorn and stir to coat. Place coated popcorn on baking sheet or sheets, and bake for 200 degrees for one hour, stirring it every 15 minutes so it won’t stick to the sheet. Cool corn, then break into clusters, and store in enclosed containers
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section and watch for many more Halloween short stories this month.