Growing up in Mid-Century America, Halloween was a very big deal. From picking the perfect autumn colored corn to hang on the front door to finding the ideal pumpkin for carving and placing it on the front porch, these were rituals that all led to the annual Halloween costume selection. Most of the time my costumes were handmade numbers and I fondly recall being a hobo as well as a clown. I also remember my first store-bought Mickey Mouse costume…what a gem.
These were simpler times in our individual Mayberry and Bedford Falls neighborhoods of Chicago. Many treats of years past, such as caramel apples, aren’t offered today for fears we had no perception of back then. My favorite bounty was Popcorn Balls. As a kid, I trick or treated at the home I live in today and the owner, Mrs. Rauch, would always fill my plastic pumpkin bucket with her homemade Popcorn Balls. Who knew then I would be living here over 40 years later and still making popcorn balls?
Halloween Popcorn Balls
Makes about 8-10, 3 inch portions
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 cups pre-popped popcorn (unsalted)
In a heavy medium size saucepan, mix the sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt. Cook over high heat until the mixture reaches 260 degrees using a candy thermometer, or the hard-ball stage.
Stir in vanilla. Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl or roasting pan that has been lighting greases with butter. Pour syrup mixture over popcorn, and working quickly, toss gently to coat. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, grease hands with butter, and form into 3 inch balls. Garnish with tempered chocolate drizzle or candied corn. Cool and wrap in wax paper then store in an airtight container.