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First Posted: 10/17/2014

The temperatures and leaves are falling. Lemonade has been exchanged for apple cider. Sleeves are now required when going outdoors.

Yup, fall has arrived, and Halloween is quickly approaching.

As awesome as this time of year can be, it also undoubtedly brings classroom Halloween parties, office gatherings and costume parties. (All of which you are expected to bring a snack to share with the crowd.)

You have had your fill of Rice Krispies treats and s’mores from the summer picnic season. How can you shake things up for fall?

Here’s some inspiration so you can face these parties head-on, worry more about the completely original costume you’ve been developing, and less about the food. Today’s offering? Chocolate-covered pumpkin-patch pretzels. You can whip this up with a few easy ingredients and who doesn’t like a chocolate-covered pretzel?

You will need:

• One bag of mini pretzels

• One bag of milk chocolate M&M’s (just the green ones)

• One 12-ounce bag of orange candy melts (any brand)

• One tablespoon of vegetable shortening

• Parchment paper

Although the candy was microwavable, I decided to take my cues from my mother and grandmother, who used a double boiler to melt chocolate for peanut-butter eggs at Easter. In my case, I used an oven-safe bowl over a pot of boiling water.

If you choose to go the stove route, I’d suggest putting the water on first. While you wait for it to boil, separate the green M&M’s from the rest of the colors. You will need these as the pumpkin stems. The rest of the colors? Save them for snack breaks throughout this process.

When the M&M’s are separated and the water is boiling, dump the chocolates and tablespoon of shortening into the pan. The shortening will thin out the chocolate and make it more pliable. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and get ready to begin.

When the chocolate is fully melted, you can start coating the pretzels. I tried several techniques, and eventually found just using my (clean) fingers worked the best. I developed the dip-and-shake method, and even added a little dip-and-shake dance along the way. This made the most presentable pumpkin-patch pretzels.

If you are creating these on your own, it is best to dip a row of pretzels and then add the green M&M at the top of the pretzel. It saves you from washing your hands after dunking each pretzel. I gained a helper halfway through, so I outsourced the stem portion and just coated the pretzels.

With one bag of chocolate, I ended up with about 60 pretzels. There was enough leftover ingredients that I could have made another complete batch with another bag of chocolate.

Let the pretzels cool, and enjoy.

Be sure to keep an eye out for more Halloween treats coming your way.