Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Popcorn Balls

My grandma's house was the house you went to on Halloween. She made homemade popcorn balls. So when I was newly married in our little house in the sticks, I had dreams of being that house where everyone came for homemade popcorn balls. Grandma sent me her recipe, and I got to it. I had a big, gooey mess that wouldn't come off of my hands. Farmer Brown had to dial Grandma for backup. He held the phone while I talked. Apparently, my Grandma firmly believed in the power of name-brand marshmallows.

Guess how many kids came that first Halloween?


I don't even turn the porch light on any more.

I do, however, make popcorn balls. I have learned a lot.

First, prepare the table. Cover with waxed paper and lay out a stick of butter. The butter is very crucial for not having a fiasco like mine the first year.
Next, pop the popcorn. I use this Homestyle Popcorn. It has a little butter, a little salt. Grandma probably air popped hers. I do know that she did grow her own popcorn sometimes. One of these 3.5 oz bags on Popcorn button, option 3 in the microwave. Like 2 1/2 minutes - done.

I like the salt with the sweet. Sort through the popcorn to get out the unpopped kernels. Put the entire bag in a large bowl. If you don't use this kind of popcorn, it is 10 cups. One of these bags is perfectly 10 cups.

Then in a non-stick saucepan, melt 2 Tb. of butter with 3 cups of Kraft mini-marshallows. You can try, but Wal-Mart brand doesn't melt the same. I use my big Super Scraper from the Pampered Chef to mix with. It transfers well to the popcorn bowl to combine the two.
Remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla. Okay, Grandma didn't add the vanilla, but Martha did. And Martha is always right.
I let it set for two heartbeats, to cool slightly. When you pour marshmallow goo on blazing hot, it seems to deflate the kernels. Mix into the large bowl of popcorn, stirring quickly.
Coat your hands with lots and lots of butter. Then add a little more butter to your hands. Grab a handful of mix and squeeze together the goo into balls just like you were making snowballs. Place on the wax paper to set up. Wrap in plastic fold-over sandwich bags.
One turn makes about SIX. I can eat all six. Plan on making several batches since you already have the stuff out. I would not double it. I think I tried that the first year, too. There is too much sticky stuff to work quickly to get a double turn out nicely.
If you are feeling all Martha-y, you can add candy corn or M&M's to the popcorn. I also copied Martha by individually wrapping each popcorn ball in saran wrap, then in orange tissue paper. Then I topped each one with a pipe cleaner stem and green tissue paper leaves. Presto - cute little pumpkins. I no longer do that.
I have also tried chocolate marshmallows. The taste was disappointing and they were poopy looking.
*I had a Phoebe from Friends moment. Her grandmother used to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Monica works frantically to recreate the lost recipe only to realize that the original recipe was the one on the bag of the Nestle chocolate chips. So when I first shared this recipe with someone else, they said, "Oh, just like making Rice Krispie treats with popcorn."
I had never made Rice Krispie Treats before.
So, um, yeah, just like making Rice Krispie treats with popcorn. The recipe on the box is probably easier to understand.



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