Every Halloween as a child, I could hardly contain my excitement through dinner because after dinner meant time for trick-or-treating! After eating, I quickly put on my costume (and then frequently my winter coat) and headed outside for my neighbor’s house – absolutely always the first house on our list.
Phyllis was one of the only adults in our tiny town of around 100 people who dressed up for Halloween. Being neighbors in a small town I saw her frequently, but one night a year she transformed into a witch, dramatically beckoning us into her house and placing into our bags a sweet, magical orb which was eaten before we even got to the next house. I liked her witch voice, but I really loved those popcorn balls. Every year at the end of the night, I would think about how maybe she had a few left over and if I went and asked her, perhaps she would give me another…but I didn’t want to seem greedy so I never did, although I’m sure she would have been happy to share the extras.
Every year at Halloween I still think about this special memory of Grandma Phyllis in her costume and those popcorn balls. This year, I was lucky enough to get her exact recipe from her grandson and my childhood playmate, Curt, and I was happy to make them for my own children. And perhaps, when Halloween comes, I will even dress up as a witch.
Popcorn Balls – from Phyllis Wallace
Air pop 1/2 Cup White Popcorn Kernels – should make about 8 cups when popped.
In separate pan – Mix:
Cook it to hardball state, take if off fire and stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Pour over popcorn and mold into balls.
Notes from Sarah: If you have never made candy before, I HIGHLY suggest using a candy thermometer which will have the exact temperature you need marked on it to let you know when you are at the hardball state. If you don’t cook the sugar long enough, you’ll get popcorn soup…too long, and it’s like peanut brittle. Also, if you are not a fan of corn syrup, honey or other liquid sweeteners can be substituted. And of course, the sky is the limit for spices and add-ins (cinnamon, extracts, chocolate chips, etc.) to make them your own. Because of the high sugar content, it is easy to use natural coloring agents, such as turmeric for yellow, to color them without adding an odd taste.