I miss the way Halloween used to be. When I was trick-or-treat age, back in the Middle Ages, as soon as darkness fell on Oct 31, the streets of my suburban neighborhood filled with seas of little hobos and pirates and witches. It was literally a mob scene.
And the treats! No store-bought mini-Snickers for us mid-century ragamuffins. Sadly, it’s not a good idea to give out homemade treats any more, unless both the giver and receiver have undergone a background check. I’d be loathe to let my kid eat a stranger’s cookie. But in those halcyon days, my sisters and I always came home with a pillow case full of little bags of cookies and brownies, apples and packs of Juicy Fruit gum, dimes and nickels, licorice whips, Slo-Pokes, Hershey Bars, and my very favorite treat of all time, popcorn balls!
So your little ones may have to make do with bite-sized Twixt and Krackles from the neighbors, but there’s no reason you can’t create your own tradition with a homemade popcorn ball to celebrate the season.
This quick recipe is very simple and unadorned, but there are all sorts of fancy add-ins and binders made of caramel and chocolate and who knows what else. We often enjoyed mixing red-hots with the popcorn.
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons cold water
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup marshmallows
5 quarts plain popped popcorn
Combine the corn syrup, butter, cold water, powdered sugar, and marshmallows in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully pour the hot mixture over the popcorn and mix, coating each kernel.
Grease your hands with butter or vegetable shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.