Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Popcorn Balls

I've loved popcorn balls as far back as I can remember. A neighbor made them for trick-or-treat most years, and my sister and I never failed to make a stop at her house for one of her famous treats.

I've never wanted to make popcorn balls because the recipes all involved a candy thermometer. Nothing turns me off a recipe quicker than a note about how high the temperature must reach soft ball, hard ball, etc. I immediately turn the page of the cookbook and look for something else to cook.

But I was certainly not intimidated by marshmallow popcorn balls. Recipes for these seasonal treats are featured throughout my favorite Internet sites. They each varied a little bit, and some even include flavored Jello to add color and flavor. But rather than copy one of those recipes, I just read them all and made up my own recipe.

If you've ever made Rice Krispies Treats, then you can certainly make marshmallow popcorn balls because the process is very similar.

Rather than pop my corn on the stove, I used a bag of microwave popcorn. My favorite is Orville Redenbacher's Natural, Simply Salted, popcorn. There's no artificial butter flavor added to this particular product, so it's perfect for the popcorn balls.

Once the corn was popped, I spread it out on a large area I had covered with wax paper. With the popcorn spread out, it was easy to remove the unpopped kernels, which you do not want to include in your popcorn balls.

Next I cooked a bag of marshmallows, 4 tablespoons of butter and a ยบ cup of brown sugar in the microwave for about 2 minutes, then stirred until the marshmallows were melted. I gradually added the popcorn to this marshmallow mixture, stirring as I worked, until I had almost used it all. Along the way, I mixed in some Halloween sprinkles that included chocolate jimmies that melted a little bit; that was OK with me. I had some of the marshmallow mixture left over, and I really wished I had about 1 to 2 cups more of the popcorn to work with. Next time I make this recipe, I will probably pop a second bag; we can just eat the popcorn that I don't use for the popcorn balls.

After everything was mixed in, I started forming the popcorn balls and placing them on the waxed paper. This is the tricky part because the mixture is so sticky and hard to work with, but I learned a good lesson. I mixed them the best I could, first using waxed paper as gloves and later buttering my hands a little. But I finally realized if I could just get the mixture divided into something that resembled balls, then I could easily go back and shape them like I wanted once they had cooled a little and were less sticky.

I added a few sprinkles to my finished popcorn balls for a festive touch.

I really enjoyed my Easy Marshmallow Popcorn Balls and so did others who tried them. I liked the crunch of the popcorn and the blend of salty popcorn with sweet, creamy marshmallows.

Easy Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
  • 1 bag of microwave popcorn*
  • 1 10 oz. bag marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Sprinkles, if desired
Pop popcorn and spread out on waxed paper. Take out any unpopped kernels.

Place marshmallows, butter and brown sugar in large, microwave save bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. If marshmallows haven’t melted, cook an additional 30 seconds or until melted. Stir to combine.

Mix in popcorn a little bit at a time, until it’s all incorporated with the marshmallow mixture. *Pop a little more popcorn if needed. Mix in sprinkles if desired.

Form mixture into balls and place on waxed paper. The mixture will be very sticky. Work with it the best you can, using waxed paper as “gloves” or buttering your hands. Form into loose balls, then go back after the balls have cooled and pack a little tighter.

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