I was talking with some employees the other day and somehow one of them suggested making a healthier version of popcorn balls as a Halloween treat. I thought that it was a great idea. Popcorn balls remind me of Halloween. I remember getting them while trick or treating on occasion. It also reminded me of a story that my dad told about my grandmother. My dad has 5 brothers and sisters so I am sure that my grandma had the challenge of making every child feel special. One day she found out that my dad loved when she made popcorn balls. So she took the time to make some for him and he remembered her standing in front of the stove burning her hands trying to form the hot sugary popcorn into balls just for my dad. What a great woman she was!
Traditional popcorn balls are likely made with sugar or corn syrup; a GMO nightmare to some. In my non GMO version I use organic brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is made by culturing cooked rice starch with enzymes in order to bread down the starches. Then the liquid is strained off and reduced by evaporating it until the a thick, sticky syrup is formed. Brown rice syrup is common among those following a macrobiotic lifestyle. Brown rice syrup is still a sweetener and should be used in moderation. It will cause your blood sugar to rise like all sweeteners do but some say that it wont make you crash the way others do because of the complex carbohydrates (due to the rice its made from).
The brown rice syrup is nice and sticky which makes it perfect for this recipe but not sticky enough to roll into balls. Honestly I prefer them this way anyway because who wants to roll a hot sugary mixture in their hands? The easier the better. Cutting them into perfect bars is a bit challenging too. I picture simply serving these on parchment paper and letting your guess pull them apart with their hands.
I brought these over to a friends and they couldn’t stop eating them. These are caramel corn meets popcorn balls and they should come with a warning. Add in any ingredients you like. My favorite combo is the pecans and chocolate, like a turtle. These couldn’t be easier to make and only 5 ingredients! Happy Halloween!
- In a large pot with a lid add 1 tbsp coconut oil and popcorn kernels.
- With lid on over medium high heat pop the popcorn until you can't hear the popping anymore.
- Dump the popcorn into a large bowl removing any unpopped kernels.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat all the brown rice syrup and coconut oil.
- Heat until bubbly and let bubble for a couple of minutes.
- Add the sugar mixture over the popcorn and mix to coat the popcorn.
- Add in the nuts and chocolate chips.
- Mix to incorporate (the chocolate will start to melt).
- In a lined 9x12 baking pan add the popcorn mixture and with a slightly greased parchment sheet cover the top and press down hard to form into bars- its ok if the popcorn breaks.
- Press down hard until the bars are evenly distributed into the pan.
- Let cool.
- Store for up to 1 week, no need to cover or refrigerate.