Popcorn balls bring back memories of trick or treating out in the country when I was a kid. Because you knew all of your neighbors, homemade treats were common on Halloween night. No one was afraid of razors in candy or poison or whatever urban legends were circulating at the time because you knew exactly who put what in your child’s Halloween bag, or pillowcase for that matter. There was one lady on our country route that made the best popcorn balls, we looked forward to those every year and made sure to hit up her house.
As I look outside today, with +8 forecasted for today, not a snowflake in sight, I cannot believe that I am back in the city I grew up in. When we went trick or treating, our costumes were over our snowsuits. Every. Single. Year. There was no last-minute panicking about fitting costumes over your winter gear, you bought those costumes to fit over winter wear on purpose. Two or three sizes too large and you were safe.
Tonight my daughter will most likely have on tights and black jeans under her spooky black dress with a long-sleeved thick black shirt under it and my little Harry Potter will just put his Hogwarts robe over his warm hoodie. A couple of pairs of “stretchy” gloves might be worn, but no winter boots, no heavy mitts and toques. I am amazed how the weather has changed so much over the past few decades in this city.
Not that I am complaining. Not one little bit. I am glad that now I get to enjoy snow-free Halloween’s in Edmonton, even if it means the polar ice caps are melting and the world will flood next year.
I never did find out the recipe that was used on those famous popcorn balls of old, I suspect she used the more complex recipe that involves a candy thermometer as I find those the best. These were whipped up off a recipe from my mom, with a couple of alterations. I love the flavor that colored marshmallows give desserts so I used those instead of plain.
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 teaspoons cold water
2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of mini white or colored marshmallows
2 tsp vanilla
5 litres plain popped popcorn
Halloween colored sprinkles
Ready your popcorn in a large roaster or baking pan, making sure to pick out all the unpopped kernels! Ouch, those can hurt teeth! Set aside one or two saucers of sprinkles, once you start rolling those popcorn balls you want to have your workstation ready to go! Get two baking sheets lined with wax paper ready beside those saucers as well.
Combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows in a pot, place on the stove on medium heat.
Slowly heat the mixture, stirring it, until it comes to a boil. Remove from the stove and pour over the popcorn, using a wooden spoon to make sure all of the popcorn is coated.
Grease your hands with margarine and start rolling those popcorn balls. The harder you press, the harder your popcorn ball will be so I always roll them loosely, to make them more chewy.
So roll one, then roll it in the sprinkles, then place it on the wax papered sheet. Keep on rolling until they are done.
These are best stored in a covered container and a good trick to remember is that placing bread in with them softens them right up! So if you notice they are far too hard after one day, place a piece of bread in with the popcorn balls and leave it for half a day or so. They soften up so perfectly!
I have one more Halloween recipe I am going to write-up, coming right away!
The Halloween Is My Second Favorite Holiday Magpie