Popcorn is our favorite snack here at Freckle & Fair headquarters. A giant jar of popcorn kernels is a staple around these parts, as essential and milk and eggs — and not just because we use it as a substitute for actual dinner. Plus, popcorn is actually not a terrible snack, which completely takes out the guilt factor, leaving us to munch away to our hearts content.
Unfortunately, we're known to ruin the healthy part of just about anything (sorry to you too, potatoes and onions), so we decided to revive a good ol' Midwestern staple just in time for Halloween and concoct some popcorn balls!
Before the big freakouts over people putting razor blades and meth in kids' candy (or is that a tale as old as Halloween?) popcorn balls were a big thing on trick-or-treating nights. I fondly remember them stuffed into gloves to form the shape of a hand with candy corn for nails — very standard Midwestern stuff. But of course, we needed to put a F&F spin on things, so these babies are neon-colored, but they've still got that good ol' Midwestern taste of sugar and corn. So get your nostalgia on with an updated factor!
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 T popcorn kernels
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 T butter
- 3 cups mini marshmallows
- Food coloring (we used pink, purple and blue)
- Grab a large pot with a lid and pour the oil in the bottom. Place the pot on a stove and turn the heat up to medium-high and place one kernel in the middle of the pan. Place the top on the pot, and when the kernel pops, add the sugar and the rest of the kernels. Let the kernels pop until the popping slows down, making sure to shake the pan frequently so they don't burn on the bottom of the pan. Sometimes, I also turn the heat down a bit to medium.
- Set the popcorn aside to cool in a large bowl or on a cookie sheet. In the same pot emptied of popcorn, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows and stir with a rubber spatula until the marshmallows are no longer lumpy. Watch your heat, as if you have it up too high, the butter will turn brown, which will affect the color of your popcorn balls (though the food coloring masks it pretty well, so not all is lost).
- Once the butter and marshmallows are incorporated, remove from heat. Take out three large bowls — I used two silicone bowls and the original pot. Divide the marshmallow mixture evenly between the three bowls.
- Add the food coloring separately to each bowl — so one gets pink, one gets purple, and one gets blue. I used gel food coloring, so I used about 5-7 drops each. Start with 4 drops and then stir the food coloring (with 3 different spatulas to avoid tainting the color) into the marshmallows to see the color, then add more as needed.
- Divide the popcorn evenly between the three bowls. Using a wooden spoon or strong spatula, incorporate the popcorn with the colored marshmallow mixture until it's evenly distributed.
- Place wax paper down on a prep surface or cookie sheet. Grab about 1/4 cup of popcorn from each of the three bowls (I didn't measure, just eyeballed it) and combine them into one ball. Some people like to coat their hands in saran wrap or cooking spray for this, as it involves a lot of handling. Set the balls down on the wax paper and repeat until you've used up all the popcorn.
- To serve. wrap the balls individually in saran wrap or cute clear bags.
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2016. All rights reserved. Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman.