Jamie and I celebrated Halloween in the good old days, in small-town Iowa— where people handed out homemade candy for treats and nobody thought twice about it. Our parents never felt that they should sift through our treat bags to make sure that the town folk hadn’t slipped dangerous foreign objects into our sacks of sweets. We didn’t realize just how lucky we were.
Mary Baker’s house was our favorite place to go. It was a huge old house at the top of what seemed like a massive set of stairs. We gladly climbed those stairs, because Mary handed out the most amazing homemade popcorn balls.
Mom recalls that for a while, one of us kids would always give one of those precious popcorn balls to her. But eventually, none of us were willing to part with our popcorn balls. That’s when she decided that she needed to learn to make them.
Halloween popcorn balls then became a Halloween tradition at our house. This is Mom’s recipe, and it is a great one. To this day, farm neighbors will drive miles to score a Schwalbe popcorn ball.
Happy Halloween! Your favorite Chick from the North – Jill
- popcorn - 3/4 cup, unpopped
- sugar - 1 cup
- light corn syrup - 1/3 cup
- water - 1/3 cup
- margarine - 1/4 cup
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- vanilla - 3/4 teaspoon
- food coloring (optional) -
- Halloween sprinkles (optional) -
- Pop popcorn, pour into a large bowl and set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, margarine, and salt. Mix well. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat, until sugar dissolves.
- Continue cooking without stirring until syrup measures 238° to 240°F on a candy thermometer or until a drop of syrup forms a soft, pliable ball when dropped into a cup of cold water.
- Remove syrup from heat; stir in vanilla and if desired, food coloring
- Pour syrup over popcorn, stirring to coat well.
- When popcorn is cool enough to handle, rub butter on hands and shape popcorn into balls, pressing just enough to hold shape. Sprinkle with Halloween sprinkles if desired.
Makes 8 – 10 balls