Here in Australia, pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes and varieties, and are generally used as a savory food, something that accompanies potatoes, roast lamb and mint peas. Few Australians have enjoyed pumpkin as a sweet. Hence, pumpkin pies are not all that common.
Most people I know are not much into lollies (as the Aussies call candy), and I rarely indulge in sugar, but as a kid, I loved those little square, plastic-wrapped caramels you sometimes found in your trick-or-treat bag on Halloween.
Here’s a recipe my Aunt Helen used to whip up, not just on Halloween but any time she felt like feeding her sweet tooth. Be warned though, if you indulge in these do so in moderation.
Pumpkin salted caramels
Makes 64, 1-inch caramels
2/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup clover honey
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (I used more-I like salt)
1. Bake the sunflower seeds in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. (or dry toast in a skillet)
2. Remove sunflower seeds from oven . Set aside.
3. Line the bottom and the sides of an 8-in square pan with parchment paper.
4. Spray with oil (PAM) or butter the parchment on the sides of the pan. I (very lightly) spray the bottom of the parchment-lined pan and the bottom of the pan. Wipe excess with paper towel.
5. Evenly spread out the roasted sunflower seeds on the parchment lined pan.
6. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree and spices.
7. Heat the mixture, but do not boil. Set aside.
8. In a second heavy bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, combine the sugar, syrup, honey and water.
9. TIP: To prevent syrup from sticking to cup: lightly spray measuring cup with oil spray. Add corn syrup into cup. Use same application with honey.
10. Stir until sugars are melted.
11. Let it boil until it reaches 244 degrees (the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer).
12. Carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture.
13. Slowly bring this mixture to 240 degrees (using a candy thermometer) for about 30 minutes.
14. Stir frequently once it reaches 230 degrees to keep from burning.
15. As soon as it reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat.
16. Stir in butter and (lemon juice-optional).
17. Stir vigorously until butter is fully incorporated.
18. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
19. Cool for a few minutes before sprinkling salt over top.
20. Allow caramels to set at least 2 hours. (best to set overnight)
21. Grease kitchen knife with oil spray or butter.
22. Wipe excess oil or butter off with paper towel.
23. Carefully cut the caramels into 1-inch squares.
24. Wrap individually in waxed paper.
25. Store in airtight container.