Marshmallow Popcorn Balls {a fun halloween treat!}

Mom used to make old fashioned popcorn balls for Halloween when my sisters and I were young. But then her reliable candy thermometer broke, and she says she could never get the popcorn balls just right after that. Her fall tradition sadly ended up biting the dust.

trick-or-treating with my sisters, 1978

Admittedly, I can be a bit of a popcorn ball snob. I learned very early on that many popcorn balls are densely packed and hard as rocks. After almost breaking a tooth a few too many times, I’m now very hesitant when one is offered to me.

But I still crave them, all sweet and sticky.

So, because I’ve missed them so much, I came up with a solution…Marshmallow Popcorn Balls.

The general list of ingredients comes from the recipe for my aunt Roxie’s popcorn cake. I played with the recipe a bit and made popcorn balls, a fun individual treat for a fall harvest or Halloween party. Unlike traditional popcorn balls, these don’t require a candy thermometer, and simply can’t be made into hockey pucks. They’re sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. And soft enough to be pulled apart with your fingers. Incredibly perfect. Maybe even perfect enough for Mom to revive her popcorn ball making tradition…

My aunt Roxie was such a dear to mail me her original Popcorn Cake recipe cards, a handful of special family photos, and a lengthy letter telling of all the celebrations this cake has witnessed over the past 30 years. Roxie’s mom (upper right photo), now 92 years old, started making these cakes in an angel food cake pan for her grandchildren’s birthdays.  So popular, the recipe became part of her family’s holidays, too…green and red gumdrops for Christmas, orange for Halloween, green for St. Patrick’s Day, and red for Valentine’s Day. 

It’s great fun for me to hold these photos of my aunt Roxie (lower left photo, holding her grandson), my uncle Arnie (upper right photo), and my four cousins…all having their moment with this fabulous cake. They bring back so many happy memories of birthday parties and holidays celebrated together. 

I was happy to learn that this tradition is still going strong in Roxie’s family, and that it has managed to spread beyond the family lines, into the homes of their friends. She doesn’t think their friends have quite as much fun with it, though, since they have taken to actually cutting the cake into pieces (gasp!). When Roxie serves the popcorn cake, her family and friends just pull off as much as they want. I have to agree…pulling a sticky marshmallowy handful of popcorn cake away from its straight pan-formed edges is just part of the delicious experience!

Thank you, Roxie, for sharing your stories and photos, and making this recipe even more special to me than it already was!

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls {a fun halloween treat!}

Yield: about 18 small popcorn balls

Ingredients

  • 14 c. popped corn
  • 1 10-oz. bag miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1-1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
  • 1-1/2 c. diced orange gumdrops or orange slices
  • small orange nonpareils
  • 1 T. butter, for non-stick fingers

Preparation

Place popped corn in a very large bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter and marshmallows, stirring frequently. Take care to not let the marshmallows scorch. When the marshmallows are almost fully melted, take pan off heat and stir to melt completely. Pour half the marshmallow mixture over the popped corn and fold gently to coat the popcorn. Pour the remaining marshmallow mixture over the popped corn and fold again to coat completely. Add the peanuts and fold again. Add half the orange pieces and fold. Add the remaining orange pieces, folding to fully incorporate.

Place the tablespoon of butter on a plate and lightly rub some on your fingertips and palms. Gather up a generous half cup of marshmallow popcorn mixture (I like my popcorn balls on the smaller side) and gently mold into a ball shape, almost 2-1/2'' in diameter. Don't press the balls too tightly, or they will have a harder texture. Aim for balls that are held together as lightly as possible, and they will be much more enjoyable to eat. Place on waxed paper and sprinkle lightly with nonpareils.

To give as treats during trick-or-treating or at a Halloween or harvest party, bag individually and tie with a festive ribbon.

Source

Adapted from my aunt Roxie Klein's popcorn cake recipe.

   

36 Responses to “Marshmallow Popcorn Balls {a fun halloween treat!}”

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    1
    Mom — October 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Love this easy to make recipe from Roxie. Craving one right now!

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    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — October 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

    These are so fun and festive, Brenda!

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    Kim — October 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

    My grandma’s popcorn balls were my favorite treat on our trick-or-treating for UNICEF route. These look scrumptious! (Cute photo of you goblins, too.)

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you, Kim – so nice to hear from you! :)

  4. #
    4
    cassie — October 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    These were my favorite as a kid! I am a big popcorn ball snob – I only want the good homemade ones! I do love making them too!

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    Cathy @ Noble Pig — October 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    More than anything that old Halloween picture with those masks bring back SO many memories. We have so many pictures like that!! These look so fun to make!!

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Our girls got the biggest kick out of that picture. Just a hard plastic mask was all it once took to trick-or-treat! It’s such a production these days.

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    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — October 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    What fun memories these bring back! Making popcorn balls is so much fun! Love that these are so soft!

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    Paula — October 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I’m liking the idea of softer popcorn balls and who doesn’t love marshmallows?

    P.S. Made chunky applesauce in the slow cooker. Not your Mom’s complete recipe because of the water amount but the slow cooker does make a good applesauce :)

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      That’s great to hear, Paula – thanks!

  8. #
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    Sheila — October 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

    My Great Aunt Mildred always handed out giant popcorn balls at Halloween….ah I miss her. Thanks for bringing back such a great memory. I may have to make some in her honor.

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    Kristen — October 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    What a great idea to add orange gumdrop candy to these!

  10. #
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    Mary@SiftingFocus — October 14, 2012 at 12:53 am

    These popcorn balls sound wonderful. I love the addition of the orange slices.

  11. #
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    Becca - Cookie Jar Treats — October 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Wanna know something really sad? I don’t think I’ve ever had a popcorn ball. Popcorn balls have never really interested me all that much, but these do look really really good :) And I just so happens I’ve got a life times supply of popcorn (go college!) and a bag of mini marshmallows waiting to be used :)

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      You’ve been missing out, Becca! These are my absolute favorite. But then again, I’m crazy for anything marshmallow. ;)

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    Sommer@ASP — October 15, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Brenda, there is nothing I love more than Halloween treats! these are so fun. :)

  13. #
    13
    Heather Likes Food — October 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I love the old photographs! And the addition of gummy orange slices is a deal maker for me -love those things!

  14. #
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    Amy @ Spin The Meal — October 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    What a great family tradition to revive. I love all your nostalgic photos and original recipe cards…these are some of my favorite memories as well – time spent with my mom and grandma in the kitchen!

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks bunches, Amy. I love my digital scrapbook!!

  15. #
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    Teri — October 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Been lurking and cooking up a few of your recipes. LOVE them. My question: Can you substitute the candy for caramel or butterscotch chips? I had a bad experience with jelled candy slices. Long story short…had a very smart greyhound that liked to remove the candy dish lid and move the candies around until she found the right one. Greyhound goobers are not cool!

    • Brenda replied on October 19th, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Hi Teri! This recipe can handle most anything. I would just be careful about using something that easily melts, as you’re working with warm marshmallow and forming the balls with your hands. I’m not sure how butterscotch chips would hold up.

  16. #
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    Angie @ Big Bear's Wife — October 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    how fun! Pinned these!

  17. #
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    nest of posies — October 18, 2012 at 11:43 am

    so fun! it’s tradition in our house to have popcorn balls for Halloween!

  18. #
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    Aggie — October 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Oh I love this post Brenda!! the pictures are wonderful…and so is the recipe. My kids would love this!

  19. #
    19
    Angie — October 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    These are just too cute!

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    Robyn | Add a Pinch — October 19, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Brenda – these bring back a flood of memories of the popcorn balls I’d make with my Grandmother for Halloween.

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    Shaina — October 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

    So fun! I love all the sweet additions!

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    Natalie @ The Stanfield Story — October 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    These look delightful! I’ve never actually made a popcorn ball but they look really easy and I know my lil pumpkin would LOVE them! Could I substitute candy corn for the orange slices? This substitution might send my hubby over the edge in love with this treat! :-) Thanks so much!

    • Brenda replied on October 19th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      I think candy corn would work just fine in these. I would just stay away from anything that melts easily, because of the warm marshmallow mixture & forming the balls with your hands. Please let me know if you try it!

  23. #
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    cheryl — October 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    OH wow!!!! How many fabulous memories are in this post!?? I loved these birthday parties! Thank you for taking the time to document this fun part of family history. :o)

  24. #
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    Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) — October 30, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I love everything about this post…your posts, the history of the Popcorn Cake, and of course, your recipe. This is the stuff that is so important to document and share….was such a fun post to read.

    • Brenda replied on October 31st, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Ahhhh…thank you so much, Brandie. :)

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    Jen — September 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Any idea how long these would store if they were each wrapped individually and tied with a ribbon? I need to make hundreds of them so I need to make them in advance, but wondering how far ahead I can start! These look fantastic!!!

    • Brenda replied on September 24th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Hello Jen – these are going to be best when they are as fresh as possible. If it were me, I would think if they were made a couple days ahead of time, they would be just fine.

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    Ashley — December 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Wow, superb weblog format! How long have you ever been blogging for?
    you made blogging glance easy. The total look of your
    website is excellent, as well as the content!

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