I am ready for Halloween!
Do you remember homemade popcorn balls and caramel apples at Halloween? I remember my mom making popcorn balls for the Halloween Carnival at Pine Forest Church – many, many years ago. Of course, there were Halloween treats and homemade candy and every good thing.
My brother, Jeremy, and I have always loved popcorn so it was so hard to help make popcorn balls that didn’t get eaten first! Who cares about treats for the go-fishing booth at the Halloween Carnival!?! A few did make it to church, but not as many as my mom would have liked. I don’t think she asked us to help with that treat again!
Beth Collum said she remembers watching her grandmother, Ora Bell Connell, making homemade popcorn balls and going to Woodmen of the World camp with Charles Putman. She remembers going through the haunted house way out there in the country.
Jean Kilgore of Stewart said she remembers all of the fun times she had at Halloween growing up in Stewart – “we always had a great time!”
I also remember trick-or-treating in Stewart growing up before you really had to worry about those treats that were not pre-packaged. I remember Nola Ann Crouch of Stewart putting tissue over round lollipops and making smiley faced ghosts. I was so impressed with that. I thought she was so creative!
You did come home with many pre-packaged treats, but back then, just as many homemade Halloween goodies.
Old fashioned popcorn balls and caramel apples just brings back so many memories of Happy Halloweens past. There are no old family recipes. Apparently they just used the recipe on the back of the Karo Corn Syrup bottle at the time. So this is the recipe I am trying out this year (whether I have trick-or-treaters at my door or not!)
Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls
12 cups of popped popcorn
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
¼ cup of butter or margarine
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray; add popcorn and place in a 300 degree oven until warm. (Popcorn can also be warmed in a large microwave safe bowl for 1-2 minutes on HIGH power). Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to boil over medium heat. Continue stirring and boil 2 minutes.
Remove syrup mixture from heat; stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over warm popcorn stirring to coat well. Cover hands with two plastic bags, spray bags lightly with cooking spray. Working quickly shape 12 three-inch popcorn balls.
Cool completely. Wrap individually in plastic wrap.
Another recipe I am trying this year is for caramel apples. One quick tip about caramel apples: be sure to let your apples chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so before making caramel apples. It helps the caramel stick to the apple a little better.
Caramel for the BEST Caramel Apples
Yield: Makes 12 apples
1 1-pound box dark brown sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon robust-flavored (dark) molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 medium Granny Smith apples
Assorted decorations (such as chopped nuts, dried apricots and dried cranberries, toffee bits, mini M&M’s and candy sprinkles)
Melted dark, milk and/or white chocolates
Whipping cream (if necessary)
Combine the first eight ingredients in heavy 2 1/2-quart saucepan (about 3 inches deep). Stir with wooden spatula or spoon over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves (no crystals are felt when caramel is rubbed between fingers), occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 15 minutes.
Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil until thermometer registers 236°F, stirring constantly but slowly with clean wooden spatula and occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 12 minutes. Pour caramel into metal bowl (do not scrape pan). Submerge thermometer bulb in caramel; cool, without stirring, to 200°F, about 20 minutes.
While caramel cools, line 2 baking sheets with foil; butter foil. Push 1 chopstick into stem end of each apple. Set up decorations and melted chocolates.
Holding chopstick, dip 1 apple into 200°F caramel, submerging all but very top of apple. Lift apple out, allowing excess caramel to drip back into bowl. Turn apple caramel side up and hold for several seconds to help set caramel around apple. Place coated apple on prepared foil. Repeat with remaining apples and caramel, spacing apples apart (caramel will pool on foil). If caramel becomes too thick to dip into, add 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream and briefly whisk caramel in bowl over low heat to thin.
Chill apples on sheets until caramel is partially set, about 15 minutes. Lift 1 apple from foil. Using hand, press pooled caramel around apple; return to foil. Repeat with remaining apples.
Firmly press decorations into caramel; return each apple to foil. Or dip caramel-coated apples into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in nuts or candy. Or drizzle melted chocolate over caramel-coated apples and sprinkle with decorations. Chill until decorations are set, about 1 hour. Cover; chill up to one week.
All you need now is to put them in cute treat bags to share with the neighborhood kiddos, or celebrate Halloween all on your own! Whatever is more fun!