Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls (Guest Post)
It’s my favorite time of year again: time for cuddling under a blanket with cider or tea while knitting and watching scary movies.
Not that I get to watch scary movies that often, as wonderful as that sounds. Allison is NOT a fan of horror, though she has put up with so much considering I love horror movies and I work in ophthalmology (she also has an eye phobia).
And both of us are usually so busy during the week that we try to relax and “do nothing” on the weekends but usually spend all day cleaning, running errands, and cooking so that we have food for the week and a small backlog of recipes ready for the blog. Not to mention social events.
Rarely do we have a weekend when we have nothing going on and I can just spend some quality time with my DVDs and knitting needles.
(Knitting is relatively new for me; I started teaching myself last January. I like keeping my hands busy, and even on those rare occasions when I get to sit around all day doing nothing, I can still feel productive if I knit.)
This Halloween has pretty much snuck up on me. I’m usually much more with it, considering it’s one of my favorite holidays.
Shortly after Thanksgiving last year I started a serious job hunt. I never really wanted to be a medical receptionist—I wasn’t even originally hired to be a receptionist; I was an ophthalmic assistant, but my job was changed after I was hired for various reasons that were out of my control.
In August, I got an offer to interview at a different ophthalmology clinic that I was already familiar with from my work. I didn’t apply for the job; the medical foundation just held on to my resume from when I had interviewed for something else back in February. I knew a fair amount about ophthalmology. They interviewed me, I fit the bill, and I got the job.
I finally started a few weeks ago and now I’m working for a busy department as an ophthalmic technician and it’s so fun. Fun, but busy! So yeah, Halloween pretty much caught me by surprise.
I remember when I was a child and my brother and I would trick or treat, each Halloween I would get at least two candied popcorn balls. I know people still make these (there are a million other recipes online), even if no one really gives them out to trick or treaters anymore.
When I was a child, that urban legend about people putting razor blades into homemade candy was just starting to circulate. It was scary, but I still loved getting the candied popcorn balls. Of course, the rumors have gotten so widespread that popcorn balls have all but disappeared from trick-or-treaters candy stashes. (Luckily, most of that took place after I’d gotten too old for trick or treating anyway.)
I wanted to keep it simple this Halloween, and try my hand at candied popcorn balls, out of nostalgia. I’m pretty sure the candied popcorn balls of my childhood were made with corn syrup (and food coloring), but we made ours with marshmallows. (Who wants to have extra corn syrup in the house!?) And instead of mixing in candy like Jujubes or Dots, I decided to use peanut butter and chocolate because how awesome are peanut butter and chocolate together?!
I never had popcorn balls with PB or chocolate when I was a kid, but that’s one nice thing about being an adult: I can do whatever I want.
These assemble very easily and would be perfect as a last minute treat for your little ghoulies.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls
(Makes 10-12 popcorn balls)
~ 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil (or other mild-tasting oil)
~ ½ cup popcorn kernels
~ 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
~ 3 cups mini marshmallows
~ 2-3 Tbsp. crunchy (or creamy) peanut butter
~ ¼ cup chocolate chips
~ 1 tsp. coconut oil
How to make it:
1. Pop the popcorn by adding the sunflower oil and popcorn kernels to a large stockpot with a tightly-fitting lid. Stir to coat the popcorn in oil, then heat over high, covering the pot, and frequently giving it a good shake or two so that the popcorn doesn’t burn. Once the majority of the kernels have popped and the popping has started to slow, lower heat or remove from the burner, but keep the pot covered and continue to shake it sporadically. You should end up with about 6-7 cups of popped popcorn.
2. Combine the melted butter and the marshmallows in a large pot over medium-low heat, and stir gently until the marshmallows melt. Then stir in the peanut butter until melted.
3. Using a large mixing bowl, add about a third of the popcorn, then a third of the melted marshmallow mixture and stir. Then repeat in batches until all of the popcorn and all of the marshmallow mixture have been incorporated. Then let it cool—just enough to be able to touch it but while it’s still warm—and use your hands to shape the sticky popcorn into balls and set on a plate or a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Optionally sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips into the popcorn balls as you’re shaping them.)
4. In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula. Then drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn balls, and (enjoy right away or) refrigerate the popcorn balls until the chocolate hardens.
Make ahead and wrap individual popcorn balls tightly in plastic wrap—they should keep like that at room temperature for several days.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
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