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Boo-tee-ful treats

Catherine Munro, Wikimedia Commons

Most popcorn treats start with plain, unbuttered, unsalted popcorn. You can turn this into delicious, colorful popcorn balls for Halloween or anytime.


I know that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so I would like to acknowledge those folks if I may.

If you or your family likes popcorn balls, they most certainly are not reserved just for holidays. They can be enjoyed any time of the year, and if you choose to color them, it is totally up to you what colors you choose. Or go by your favorite flavors, if using gelatin. I love the strawberry-flavored gelatin popcorn balls the best, but as noted before, we do not all have the same preferences.

My kids loved anything sweet that was red, so it’s probably a safe bet that most other kids do too.

Whatever your favorite flavors or colors happen to be, may I wish you all love and safety in these unusual and uncertain times.

Festive Jell-O popcorn balls

Courtesy of Kraft Foods, this makes delicious, chewy popcorn balls. This one is my favorite. For Christmas, I use red and green gelatin, but for Halloween a good choice is orange and purple.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 package (10 1/2-oz.) miniature marshmallows

1 package (3-oz.) Jell-O Gelatin, any flavor

12 cups popped, plain popcorn

1. Place popcorn in large bowl. Microwave butter and marshmallows in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Stir in gelatin mix until well blended.

2. Add mixture to popcorn in bowl; toss to coat. When cool enough to handle, grease hands with butter and shape mixture into 16 balls. Let cool; wrap in plastic wrap if planning to store.

Caramel popcorn balls

They are chewy with lots of flavor. The caramel sauce won’t set up unless it reaches the correct temperature, so be sure to allow it enough time to boil. You can also just melt some caramels with a bit of water and use that mixture.

10 cups popped popcorn

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 cup butter

1. Set popcorn aside in a large bowl. In a 2-quart saucepan combine sugars, corn syrup, water, salt and vinegar.

2. Using a candy thermometer, heat mixture to boiling and stir regularly until temperature reaches 260 degrees F. This will take about 15 minutes. Stir in butter until melted.

3. Stir caramel sauce over popcorn and stir until well coated. Spread popcorn on clean countertop and let it set up for a few minutes. Form popcorn into balls and allow to cool. Store in airtight container or plastic bags. Recipe may be doubled.

Old-fashioned popcorn balls

From the collection of Paula Deen.

2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups water

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

18 cups popped corn

1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup, vinegar and salt. Cook over high heat until mixture reaches 255 degrees F (hard-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Stir in vanilla.

2. Pour over popped corn, tossing gently to coat. When mixture is cool enough to handle, lightly grease your hands and press popcorn into 3-inch balls. Cool completely on waxed paper.

Candy corn popcorn balls

1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

6 tablespoons oil, preferably canola

3 jars (7-1/2 oz. each) marshmallow creme

Orange and black food coloring (or other holiday colors)

1 cup candy corn (or more, if you like)

Butter or cooking spray

1. Prepare popcorn with oil in very large pot (or in batches, if necessary, in large pot) according to package directions; transfer to very large bowl. Line baking sheets with waxed paper; set aside.

2. Place marshmallow creme in large microwave-safe bowl, microwave on High in 15-second intervals, stirring until fluff is smooth and bubbly. Tint fluff with orange or black food coloring.

3. Pour over popcorn. Coat hands with cooking spray. Using hands (when cool enough to handle), mix popcorn with marshmallow creme until well coated. Mix candies into mixture until well distributed.

4. Shape mixture into baseball-sized balls. Place on baking sheets; let stand until dry; about 30 minutes. Makes about 15 popcorn balls.

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