You Don’t Know Jack-o-Lantern

Once the highlight of every autumn, Halloween has begun to lose its charm. Once an opportunity to escape into an alternate persona, collect hordes of sweet treats, and explore new neighborhoods filled with bright lights and wild decorations, now it’s little more than a note on a calender page. Much of that has to do with simply growing older no doubt, an unfortunate side effect of becoming too mature or too serious. More than that, however, the great prize at the end of the journey holds little allure now. Artificially flavored, colored, and pumped full of unsavory fillers, not to mention the sad prevalence of animal products in mainstream options, the whole song and dance seems somehow hollow without that great candy climax to look forward to. For someone with an active and voracious sweet tooth to reject free candy has got to say something.

Rest assured, not all candy has lost its appeal. The homemade, hand-crafted stuff is in a category of its own, especially since it’s the sort that no parent would allow their child to take on a trick-or-treat outing. Ironic that the mass-produced junk would be considered a safer, better option. Fine by me though, because that only means I get to horde more of the choice picks for myself, such as these lightly spiced pumpkin pâte de fruits. Gummy candies all grown up, these seasonal treats are perfect for the entire autumn season, not just the standard Halloween sugar high.

Soft yet toothsome, the crunch of sugar coating the outside gives way to smooth pumpkin jelly, tinged with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. A hint of molasses adds depth, contrasted by a bright splash of cider vinegar. Unlike so many other “pumpkin spice” novelties, these edible orange jewels genuinely taste like the gourd of their namesake.

Pumpkin Pâte de Fruits

1/4 Cup Solid-Packed (Canned) Pumpkin Puree
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Juice*
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Molasses
2 Cups Granulated Sugar, Plus Extra to Coat
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
1 3-Ounce Package Liquid Pectin

*I ran about 1/4 of a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, gutted, peeled, and sliced into 1-inch strips, through my juicer to yield around 1 cup of pumpkin juice. If you don’t have a juicer, don’t fret! You can also chop up the raw pumpkin into piece, toss them into a food processor or blender, and thoroughly puree. Strain from a very fine-meshed sieve or nut milk bag, and save the solid pulp for another use. It’s great for making crackers or dog treats!

Line a 4 x 8-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil, and lightly grease; Set aside.

Place the pumpkin puree, pumpkin juice, cider vinegar, molasses, sugar, and all the spices in a medium saucepan, stirring to combine. From this point forward though, keep that spatula out of the pot until the very end, lest you create nasty sugar crystals while the candy is forming. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, gently swirling the pot periodically, until the mixture reaches 238 degrees (soft ball stage.) At last, pour in the pectin, and stir briefly to incorporate. Continue cooking at a steady boil 2 minutes longer.

Transfer the hot, liquid candy into your prepared pan, and let sit at room temperature until completely cool. It should be solid enough to pull out of the pan at this point, using the foil as a sling. Use a very sharp knife, lightly coated in oil, to slice the rectangle into small, two-bite squares. Toss the squares in additional granulated sugar to coat, and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. The candies will last for about 1 week… If you can keep the ghouls and goblins away!

Printable Recipe


38 thoughts on “You Don’t Know Jack-o-Lantern

  1. I love Halloween – it’s not about the food/candy for me, but rather the costumes, horror movies, and celebrating birthdays that happen to fall on the day :) Love these pumpkin candies! And the title of this post.

  2. I have felt the same way about Halloween for a few years. It’s hard finding candy that I feel ok with giving out to children, that is not filled with terrible things and made by even more disgusting corporations. Last year I went with vitamin filled lollipops, but I haven’t made up my mind this year yet.

  3. I roasted one pumpkin last night and will puree it tonight and drain it. I was planning to freeze that pumpkin juice. But I see some of it turning into this. Now to get liquid pectin since I rarely use it. And one more pumpkin to roast. Homemade pumpkin puree is so much better too.

  4. pumpkin juice, molasses, ACV, ginger, cinnamon…you have thought of it all, Hannah! Mind blowingly creative and fabulous with gorgeous images! I can almost taste it from the shimmery, glossy bite shot!

  5. First of all, I love the title! Second…those candies look beautiful and sound so tasty! Those kinds of candies were always my favourite when I was a kid. I bought your book Vegan Desserts just for the recipe (and all the other but that was the closer for sure)

  6. ah, i’m totally loving the pumpkin juice as part of this recipe… do you normally include it in your juices?? i’m going to have to try!

    1. I’ve never drank the pumpkin juice straight- I’m just not a fan of raw pumpkin flavor. I’m sure you could, if you wanted… It’s just more delicious when cooked or baked into something else, if you ask me.

  7. Thanks for the link to my dog treats recipe. Your blog is gorgeous, so happy to have found you. And, I’m giving away a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheese starting tomorrow if you want to help spread the word! :)

  8. Oh my! And oh, my Hannah! What a wonderful, creative, spectacular, sparkling, and awe-inspiring mind you do have! I am utterly in awe. I can’t stop looking at the gorgeous photos!

    Plus “pumpkin juice” makes me think of Harry Potter :)

  9. I never thought of making Pumpkin Pâte de Fruits — you are amazing!! And I’m guessing so are these little beauties…would love to make them, and if I have a little spare time this weekend they’re going on my list!

  10. You are so eloquent Hannah! I too am not a fan of Halloween (for many reasons, including what you said above) but you put it so beautifully!

    These candies look fabulous too- I love the autumn flavour of them!

    P.S. I finally got my copy of VegNews and was super impressed by a certain someone’s Black Forest creation ;)

  11. I’m not a big Halloween fan (I’m a weird person who doesn’t love dressing up!) but I do love the sweets & pumpkin flavored goodness. These pate des fruits look incredible–I’ve never seen any with a more savory base, just berry-based ones!

  12. I just gave Somer a bollocking for her American desire to make everything pumpkiny sweet. Here in Australia we eat it savoury and not sweet BUT I will make an exception for these magnificent creations! I can feel my left eye twitching with anticipation of sinking my teeth into those headily perfumed spicy bites and I know that I have a nice big pumpkin that was previously going to only be eaten in all ways savoury, that I have decided to carve up into delicious portions and one of those portions shall be solely donated to this recipe. We don’t do halloween here in Australia. They sell those carving pumpkins and no-one buys them and my daughters buy them cheap after halloween and carve them into weird faces for an apres halloween “event” but then my family has always been a bit exit stage left if you know what I mean! Love this recipe…sorry Somer…you need to up your pumpkin sweeties to hit me below the belt where this recipe went! Bravo Hannah! :)

  13. I love homemade Pâte de fruits!! Love the idea of a pumpkin one. Sounds amazing esp for Halloween and autumn. I just got a juicer. All I need is to find me some pumpkin and pumpkin purée now!!

  14. This looks fantastic! We’re big on Halloween here — happy kids, fun with friends, and lots of excuses to bake! This would be a great addition to our buffet. Thanks for sharing!

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