Sunday, November 3, 2013

Popcorn Balls and Pumpkin Seeds!

 Happy Sunday and Happy November. Normally each Halloween I bake cupcakes for friends and family to hand out that I decorate to match the holiday but this year, with the broken finger, the idea of all that piping just didn't sound all that great to me. So this year I thought Popcorn Balls would be fun since I have some corn syrup left over from another baking project. Something that is quick and easy and just about a one handed job. After the incredible reception these little cuties got I decided to share the recipe with all of you too!

I have an "in" with a popcorn supplier so I was able to get my popcorn already popped and in a bag for easy use. But if you need to pop your own corn you can either do it on the stove top or microwave it yourself. I went looking for a recipe and found that the popcorn ball has changed since the last time I made them. Instead of corn syrup most of the recipes I found used marshmallows! If you have made Rice Krispies Treats then you have basically made this recipe already! Here is what you need:

12 cups pop corn with unpopped kernals carefully removed.
10 oz bag of marshmallows
1/2 stick of butter (you can use margarine but butter is the taste you want)
dash of salt (if you have salted butter don't add more salt)
3/4 cup candy/nuts/seeds

In a big pot melt the marshmallows, butter and salt together. Stir till smooth with absolutely no lumps. Turn off the heat and stir in the popcorn. When completely covered dump the mix out onto a cookie sheet or parchment covered counter. Spread out and then sprinkle your candy. (and/or nuts and/or seeds) and press that into the popcorn mix. At this point you can either spray your hands with cooking spray and grab small handfuls to make into balls or just cut the mix into squares. I rolled the popcorn and then placed the balls into Halloween themed cupcake liners. This gives the guest something to hold onto while eating the ball so their hands don't get sticky. At this point you can hand them out or package them in cello bags to take with you. For the best freshness you want to make sure to make these no sooner than 36 hours before eating. The beauty of them is that they take about 15 minutes to make so you could actually make these right before a party to take with you. Super easy. Super yummy. 

I also make pumpkin seeds each year to share with family and friends. This year I'll be doing this several times over the month of November since I actually roast our painted pumpkins from Halloween (after the paint has been scrubbed off, of course) and puree them for pies, cakes, muffins (and yes, I'll share all of the recipes with you too!) and this means I will have lots and lots of seeds for roasting! Here is my easy recipe!

What you will need:

Fresh pumpkin seeds that have been washed and all pumpkin pulp removed
Olive or vegetable oil
Salt

Yup that's all you "need". Now what you may want is extra spices like chili pepper and garlic for savory seeds or ginger and cinnamon sugar for sweet seeds. But this is the basic recipe.


 In a small pot you will want to boil your seeds for about 10 minutes. 
 I drain my seeds in a wire mesh colander. I then take a cap full of the oil and drizzle it over the seeds in the colander. Mix the oil up with your fingers so the seeds get covered. Then spread them out onto a cookie sheet so they are mostly in a single layer. This is the time to salt but not season. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes and then stir the seeds. Bake for 8-10 minutes longer making sure they don't get too dark. You want a light golden color and not brown.
When your seeds are done you can pile them into a bowl or onto a dish and this is the time to add your savory or sweet seasonings! I love them just with salt but I will be making the sweet variation for our Christmas gifts this year. Really yummy! 

Now just a final word on pumpkin seeds. Your seeds should be very crisp with just a bit of chewy seed center. If they are all chewy then they were not boiled long enough or baked long enough. They should SNAP when you bite into them. I know a lot of people who say they don't like roasted pumpkin seeds because they are too chewy. This shouldn't be the case if they are done up right. 

Next week I'll have a cake to share but I hope you enjoyed today's easy recipes and will give them a try!

Cat

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