Popcorn Balls are a fun Halloween tradition to share.
This popcorn ball recipe we use was perfected by my mother when I was growing up. The elementary school I attended, Colfax Elementary in North Hollywood, California, used to throw a Halloween Carnival every year. It was one of those old fashioned type of carnivals that the PTA put on. They had all kinds of activities that you bought tickets to trade for doing an activity. My favorite booths were “Spin Art” and “Goldfish toss.” I loved winning a goldfish, bringing it home, and guessing how long it would live. And of course, there was the famous PTA Bake Sale: a delectable array of homemade goodies for all to purchase and consume. My mom’s contribution to the bake sale was her popcorn balls. The popcorn balls were one of the most popular items and would sell out quickly. After a few years, my mom not only offered the popcorn balls to sell, but she also sold her recipe for something like a dollar for every copy.
When I started my family, of course I had to carry on with the popcorn ball tradition. My kids loved eating them and giving them away to their special friends and teachers. Today, even though there are no kids around the house to eat them, I still enjoy making the time honored popcorn balls and giving most of them away to very grateful recipients.
Begin with 2 quarts popped corn. Put in a large tray or bowl.
(Fun Fact: the pan I use belonged to my grandmother and is the exact one my mom used in making the popcorn balls for our family when I was growing up. Just keeping the family tradition thing going all the way, if you know what I mean).
To make caramel, combine in a saucepan:
1/2 cup clear, Karo syrup
1-1/3 cup sugar
2 cubes margarine (you could use butter but I like the taste of margarine better)
Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes a light caramel color.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Pour caramel over popped corn and coat well. I like to stir everything around with a large, plastic spoon.
Form the popcorn balls when the mixture is still hot. You will need to grease your hands with butter to prevent them from burning and blistering while you make balls.
Place the balls on waxed paper to cool.
Wrap popcorn balls in cellophane or those cute Halloween treat bags.