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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Haystack Halloween Critters

 Halloween is for the kids. Sure there are those times that we dressed up as adults and had fun. And even that time we spent money on renting the real Batman and Catwoman costume, invited over 200 hundred of our closest friends and then spent 2 days cleaning up after- good times.

But the excitement and wonderment in the little eyes when they put on their first cape and make the ginormous jump from the couch to the floor- if only for a second, they really believe they are flying. It's that little wonderment that adults loose over time. Even the simplest decorations are fascinating when we are young.

Enter the haystack critter. These deceivingly decadent, rich and tasty cookie-like-creatures are just the thing to add a teeny bit of interest back into Halloween. A no-bake spider cookie with four simple ingredients, stirred together and plopped down on paper. You strategically place a few candy pieces to form a face, legs, antenna, a nose or whatever (eating a couple of 'eyes' along the way) and then sit back and wait for the haystack to harden. Simple.

Office mates love these too- you might find two of them battling it out with their alien-like monsters. Winner eats both! Put a little fat and happy back into your Halloween with Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Haystack Critters.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques: How to melt chocolate: the best melting option is using a double broiler method; essentially this is a pan with a little simmering water in it, on top is pan or glass bowl that will fit tightly to the rim of the bottom pan without letting too much steam escape. This top pan or bowl should not touch the simmering water below. Drop in the chocolate, let the heat do the work, but stir often. Chips become glossy when they are warmed but they don't loose their shape so you must stir. Carefully remove the bowl from the steaming pot but be very careful that no water gets into the chocolate or it will seize up requiring you to start over.

Using a microwave: the key to melting chocolate in a microwave is to turn the heat down and stir often! Power the heat to about 50% or place on warm if you have that option; place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat only for about 10 seconds at a time. Stir, then add again for only 10 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is melted. It will only take seconds for the chocolate to burn.

Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Haystack Halloween Critters

1/2 cup Butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Creamy peanut butter
6 oz Chow mein noodles
1/3 cup Peanuts (I like to use salted, dry roasted for a little extra flavor, but plain peanuts work great)

For the critter decoration:
plain M&M's
pull-apart licorice

Have a sheet of wax paper, about the size of a cookie sheet, sitting on the counter or on a sheet pan and ready for the Haystack Cookies. Melt the butterscotch chips (see melting tips above). Add in the peanut butter, stir until smooth using a spatula. Add in the chow mein noodles and the peanuts and fold it all together until everything is well coated.

Take a spoonful or spatula full of the haystack mixture and pile it on the wax paper. Don't worry too much about trying to reshape them, each one will form their own little 'haystack'. These are fairly rich, so they don't need to be too big, mine are roughly 1/4 cup, which should yield about a couple of dozen critters.

Let the haystack cookies firm up slightly while you ready the critter decorations. Use the M&M's for eyes, the pretzels for legs and the licorice for antennas; be creative and see what you can come up with!


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