Want a quintessential American Halloween party food? Fed up with the trick to get us to eat fresh food by disguising it under toffee? (That’s how I perceived the toffee apples when I was a child.) Like the idea of something a bit different? Want a treat that looks fun in a display? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Popcorn balls are pretty easy to make and you can cover them in orange cellophane as I did here to make them look like little pumpkins. I was looking for green curling ribbon but only found the black–although at first disappointed I couldn’t get the exact ‘look’ I was going for, I was quite happy with the black and orange look too!
Display these on a little log pile near the front door for guests to take home with them, or in a bowl on the party table (or a cauldron, of course), or tucked in a basket amongst autumn leaves in your entrance hall. They’re such a fun little treat to be used as both decoration and party food.
Popcorn balls also work at Christmas–you can add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg if you like but try wrapping them in red cellophane with gold or silver curling ribbon and displaying in a glass or crystal bowl at your Christmas party–really festive and eye catching (watch the kids eyes when you offer them on, they’ll love these!).
I use a reliable recipe from Paula Deen. One note about the recipe: you really should try to use a candy thermometer because if the mixture isn’t at the right temp you’ll just end up with a soggy, sticky (but very tasty!) mess.
100ml golden syrup (I noticed some shops are selling maple syrup flavoured golden syrup–thatmight be a nice thing to try for this!)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 16 mugs of popped corn (best if you use fresh popcorn made in an air popper or in a pan–the microwave popcorn may make it taste funny if it has been pre-seasoned)
Combine sugar, water, syrup, vinegar, and salt in a medium sized pan.
Cook over high heat until mixture reaches 255 degrees F (the hard ball stage–use a candy thermometer to check).*
Now, stir in vanilla.
Pour the mixture over popped corn, tossing gently to coat. I usually use a large roasting pan for this.
When mixture is cool enough to handle, press popcorn into 3-inch balls with lightly greased hands.
Cool completely before wrapping in cellophane. Or serve just as they are! A bowl of these on a party table will look very inviting!
*If you want to do this without a candy thermometer, try the hard ball method:
- Drop a small spoon of the mixture into a bowl of very cold water.
- Make the cooled syrup into a ball with your fingers underwater.
- If the mixture holds the ball shape (it will remain very sticky) you’ve reached the hard ball stage.