I have decided to open up my test kitchen to some Halloween treats, to see which ones I recommend people attempting for Halloween this year. I decided to begin with a treat I have never personally had but is quintessentially Halloweeny: Popcorn Balls. I found a recipe for “Best Ever Popcorn Balls” at Allrecipes.com but I had to make only half of the recipe. I do not have a house full of kids to share with and did not want food to go to waste! Even at half the recipe I still ended up making a dozen giant popcorn balls.
In a heavy sauce pan I put in what looked like half of 3/4 cup corn syrup (had to eyeball it), 2 tbsp of butter, 1 tsp cold water, 1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp of icing sugar and 1/2 cup of marshmallows. At this point I had already popped 1/3 cup of corn kernels in 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and kept the popcorn in the big pot, waiting to get all gooey.
I brought everything to a boil, stirring here and there. I totally forgot I was making candy so I did not have ice water on-hand, do not make my mistake! Have ice water on hand just in case.
Once it came to a boil I poured it over the popcorn and started to stir, coating everything.
This is the part of the recipe (other than dealing with the ingredient quantities which were very confusing) that I was unhappy with. It did not say how long to wait before shaping the balls. Candy making makes me very nervous, I get burned all of the time and got burned doing this part as well. I did start off with an ice cream scoop and put the servings out individually on the parchment paper. Then I covered my hands in shortening and tried to make the balls and had some of the sticky candy stick to the palm of my hands and burn me. So if you are trying to do this, be very careful! The problem is you can not wait too long to make the balls because if they cool off too much they will not stick together.
Considering I have never made OR eaten these before, I think I did very well. They are SUPER sweet though, I don’t think my husband and I could have more than one but I can see the appeal to these traditional Halloween confections. I am glad that I gave this recipe and technique a shot. For those looking for a super easy and fast Halloween treat to make for a bunch of people, I can really recommend this recipe. For those with little ones in the kitchen, please be careful. This is definitely one for the adults to make!
When you make candy it is always dangerous but this recipe is, unlike most candy-making recipe, super easy and simple. You do not need a candy thermometer, you just need to melt everything and bring it to a boil. Just be careful when assembling those popcorn balls!
Have a Halloween treat you would like me to make and show you the technique? I am open to suggestions! Just leave a comment and I may give it a shot.
Debra She Who Seeks says
When I was a kid going trick or treating, there was one lady in town who always gave away big homemade popcorn balls. They were such a treat! I always made sure to have her house on my route! Your recipe has given me a wonderful trip down memory lane, thanks!
Suzie Ridler says
How wonderful Debra! I am so glad to have stirred up happy Halloween memories for you. I wish I knew a lady in my town who made those ever year, that is so cool!
You just reminded me that I have an old recipe out of my Great Gram’s cook book for popcorn balls! When I go home I’ll have to dig it out. I’ll make them for the Halloween party I’m planning.
So weird but I have actually been craving popcorn balls (or carmel corn). My sis and I used to make it when we taught school, for our students (yes, picture the spinster school teachers, but we were only about 25-27!) Kids loved it! Love the pics and directions!!!
It’s fun to see all your Halloween ideas Suzie! I wasn’t allowed to celebrate the holiday when I was a kid (my family is very religious) so I missed out on all the traditional treats!
I don’t really celebrate now either although my beliefs are SO different from my family’s now! Mike and I are going to celebrate our 1 year anniversary on Nov. 1, so we’ll be at our favorite hotel on the coast on Halloween night! We have created our own celebration for the night by getting married on the 1st, I guess! 🙂
As I told you on Twitter, my dad made these, but he used caramels, not marshmallows. (Of course, he never shared the recipe with anyone.) Any thoughts on that?
Suzie Ridler says
I picked this recipe because I had marshmallows and didn’t have caramels but I can imagine how good that would taste, probably more traditional too Linnea!
home staging in Toronto says
Hi. Interesting idea to make popcorn balls with marshmallows. I make them with caramels too. They are very popular in our family and that is why I make them usually in double amount of what recipe says. Moreover, I think, it is quite easy and fast to make. But you have to be careful when making popcorn in order not to burn it.
A couple of my friends grew up in Michigan, & had fond memories of an amusement park that had *awesome* popcorn balls! When the gal visited, she sent a BOX of them to my guy friend, & he was ecstatic!
My dad & I made fudge ‘religiously’ in Dec, & always used marshmallow creme – this brought back memories of stiring the fudge with him. I remember a coz brot some to a holiday later, & hers were grainy (prob made with sugar, not the marshmallow) . . . fun!
Just to give you a hint. I found a hint a long time that works with marshmallow popcorn balls and rice crispy treats. Wet your hands with water, and shake them off so they aren’t dripping, Then pick up the popcorn and form balls. You may have to wet them often, but it works awesome! For rice crispy treats just dampen your hands and flatten them out.
Suzie Ridler says
That is so smart! Thank you rose55, I had no idea. This will make my life so much easier.