Friday, October 7, 2011

Aunt Katie's Halloween Better-Than-Popcorn Balls

Happy Halloween!

I have a question.  What happened to GOOD halloween candy?  What's up with all these teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, shrink-wrapped and sanitized fun-sized candy bars that you need a handful of to satisfy your sweet tooth? Where do they get "fun" in those things? They miniaturized the fun right out of them!

When I was a kid, we stood on the front porch, the door opened to a chorus of "Trick or Treat" and FULL SIZE Milky Ways, Snickers, Baby Ruth and Clark Bars rocketed into the bottom of our pillowcases. Yeah, no fancy schmancy goodie holders for us, we slung those pillowcase sacks over our backs and trudged from house to house in our HOMEMADE costumes, hauling home a bounty of full-sugar, cavity-producing he-man sized treats. Sometimes we had to go home, unload and head right back out again, hit even more streets and bring home yet another pillowcase full. Ah, those were the days.

The candy bars were good, but the homemade goodies were the best! Innocent times, to be sure, when it was safe to eat the homemade popcorn balls, cookies, cupcakes and caramel apples that sweet little old neighbor ladies lovingly handed out to the goblins of the night. I still like to make the homemade stuff for "special" neighborhood kids. Oh sure, they get the FULL SIZE candy bar I tuck into their designer Halloween bags, but the kids I know well, whose moms and/or dads are standing right with them at the door also get a special treat that I've made in the kitchen.

My favorite homemade Halloween treat is akin to a popcorn ball, but is made with puffed rice instead - no unpopped kernels to break a tooth! My Aunt Katie used to make these when I was a kid. Here is her recipe:

Aunt Katie's Halloween Treats

Makes 30  balls
  • 1/2     cup  butter
  • 2        cups  sugar
  • 2        cups  light corn syrup
  • 1/2     cup  water
  • 1/2     teaspoon  salt
  • 2        teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 2        packages  puffed rice cereal -- In a bag.
Combine all ingredients but cereal and cook to hard ball stage (250 degrees to 266 degrees on a candy thermometer; without a candy thermometer, cook until a little of the syrup dropped into a cup of cold water, forms a hard ball between your fingers). 

Pour over cereal while warm and mix well with wooden spoon (a strong one!).  Butter hands and shape into balls (working quickly before it hardens in the pan).  Wrap individually in squares of wax paper.
(145 Calories each)

NOTES : If you make these with gluten-free puffed rice, they are GF! Print this post

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