Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twenty Five Treats for the Holidays - Day 21

A post in TECHNICOLOR - so good it's dangerous!!!

When I was very small, there was a shop in the town we lived in that made popcorn balls.  They were amazing technicolors and flavors.  You could smell the place three doors down, and I'm not kidding, you'd feel like you were floating in on the wonderful aromas!

Now I've also shared how my mom wasn't that great of a cook, but she had a few shining stars in her culinary crown.  Like the butterscotch and my birthday cake, this one didn't come out of the kitchen all that often, but it's a home run!  She actually made popcorn balls because she had asbestos hands.    I don't, so I made it like caramel corn.

SPH Candied Popcorn
6 quarts popped popcorn (see the caramel corn recipe for details about popcorn)
1 c. sugar
1 3 oz. package Jell-o (flavor/color your choice - I used strawberry)
1/2 c. water
1 t. vinegar
2 T. light corn syrup
1 T. butter
1/2 t. salt

Stir the Jell-o into the water.  Combine sugar, Jell-o mixture and vinegar in heavy saucepan.  Boil over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and boil until hard ball stage (260 degrees).  Remove from heat and pour over popcorn.  QUICKLY stir to combine (I used two really big spoons), then spread on waxed paper to cool.

If you want to try plain popcorn balls, omit the Jell-o and follow directions as listed above, except run your hands under cold water and shape into popcorn balls.  You are a very brave soul indeed if you try.  Under no circumstances should you let a child try to make this recipe into popcorn balls!  Cooked sugar is very hot, and sugar burns really REALLY hurt!  Let them watch, but don't go any farther than that!  This is probably a treat that 's good to make while they are at school or a friend's house.  Also, be mindful of any and all dental work - kids with braces, grandparents with bridges, anyone with fillings should ALL be careful.  It WILL be sticky in your mouth.

So adding the Jell-o was my tweak to the family standby.  You could also add vanilla (remember the peppermint syrup recipe?).  The strawberry flavor made these taste like Jolly Ranchers in a really good way.  You can choose what flavor/color you want to make.  I think orange would be pretty tasty, and so would watermelon.  Watermelon Jolly Ranchers were always my favorite.

Store in an airtight container if you have leftovers, or are giving as gifts (be sure to include the dental warning).


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