11.12.2013

Popcorn Balls - The Gooey Variety

The other day I was pondering what meal to make for a family who is celebrating the recent arrival of a new baby. The meal was for a Friday night supper. It didn't take long for my train of thought to hop on the Friday night track which led to ideas for a fun, fall Friday supper. At our house, popcorn balls from Grandma are a fall tradition. 

Guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when the thought of making popcorn balls as the dessert for the new baby meal came to mind. Immediately, my thoughts were off! A fun, fall meal for a Friday night! There are small children! Popcorn balls with colorful candy scattered throughout and pizza! Uhm, scratch the pizza. This meal has to travel a bit before arriving at its destination. We want it to be hot when it gets there. Pizza won't make it. Hmmm, runzas! That's it! Pockets of dough filled with meat and cheese. Those would travel well and still be hot enough to eat! Yea!!! A lettuce salad would round out the meal nicely.

As I was making the popcorn balls, I wondered the same thing I wondered the previous weekend while making homemade crispy treats. "These things are so easy. Why don't I make them more often?" Why do I think homemade treats have to take a ton of time and use the oven? Quick and easy tastes just as good and less rush makes for a more relaxed mama, which everyone enjoys. Sometimes, the ease and speed of preparation is worth any extra expense. A quick mental breakdown of costs in my head reveals that these quick and easy goodies don't cost more than others. It just seems as if they do because they are made from ingredients, marshmallows, I don't keep stocked in my pantry.

Because our family prefers gooey popcorn balls over the crunchy version, popcorn balls and crispy treats are made the exact same way. The only differences between the two is that one uses popcorn, the other crispy cereal, and the crispy treats are smooshed into a pan while the popcorn balls are shaped into round, ball-like shapes. Well, least they are supposed to end up round. Here's how it went down yesterday. No one wanted to help make them, but it was still lots of fun. OK, correction. Two small somebodies wanted to help make them until they saw how sticky the mixture was. That's when it became a solo event:)

POPCORN BALLS:
6 C. popped popcorn, preferably free of unpopped kernels
40 large marshmallows
3 T. butter

Melt marshmallows and butter together. Pour over popcorn. Stir together. Butter hands and shape mixture into balls. Wrap individual balls in plastic wrap or place each ball in sandwich-sized plastic bag.

Possible additions: Candy, nuts, food coloring(add this to marshmallow, butter mixture before stirring into popcorn), vanilla or other flavorings.

I think that making popcorn balls might become addictive, if a person let it. If getting your hands all buttery and gooey isn't your idea of fun, the mixture can be pressed into a pan, just like crispy treats. If you really want to bump it up a notch, press the mixture into a bundt pan to create a popcorn cake. This is really, really easy and lots of fun! The addition of colorful candy and nuts really gives the cake a fun, party appearance. Chocolate and/or caramel can be drizzled over the top of the popcorn cake too, if desired. Yum, right now I'm thinking of how tasty a chocolate drizzle sprinkled with hazelnuts might be. Ooh, what if it were a caramel popcorn cake with chocolate drizzle and chopped pecans or walnuts? Yum, yum.

Popcorn balls, popcorn treat bars, and popcorn cake all make yummy treats that are super easy to make. They are ideal for last minute desserts and are good sellers at bake sales too. Popcorn balls or treat bars can be sweet tucked into a Christmas stocking. Balls that have been colored with green food coloring can be stacked on a platter to form a Christmas tree. Colored candies can be the ornaments. My mom adds orange coloring for fall treats. All of this can be done with crispy treat mixture as well. Whatever's on hand works. Imagination and creativity make it fun.

Remember those pockets of dough stuffed with meat and cheese? Those ended up being cheeseburger flavor. They smelled delicious cooking, and the filling that leaked out onto the baking pan was so good. That's another easy recipe, one for later.

Off to play with playdough - another recipe for later,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House

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