Happy Halloween!

Recipe: Pecan Caramel Popcorn Balls

It’s not too late to make a special treat for Halloween. I know homemade goodies are off limits for traditional trick-or-treaters, but, popcorn balls are always welcomed by anyone on door duty, and you can offer them to the neighbors you know when they ring your bell.

I love Halloween; the only holiday where we celebrate the kindness and generosity of strangers.  The history of trick-or-treating is  predictably, a marketing primer – even I can remember the days back in the ‘70s when not every house gave away candy, but it was a mix of treats and the kind of toys we all think of as party favors now.

But, those houses were disappointing to me as a kid. On Halloween, you want to walk away with a bag full of candy, not trading cards or a spider ring.  I recently read Sweet Tooth, by Kate Hopkins, and it reminded me what a thrill a Hershey bar, or a Snickers once was. ( I’d rather have hand-made salted-caramel today, but it turns out I am still a total sucker for Heath bars.)

Halloween is also a day we celebrate, and encourage odd behavior – which in the right doses and circumstances, is a very good thing. I’m not the kind of adult who dresses in costume, but I am also not above putting an animatronic spider and a really creepy clown out on my front porch, or carving a pumpkin. And I have never forgotten that the first time I rode the subway in New York City, on Halloween, I sat next to Death. It was awesome.

If you’ve never popped corn in a pan, this recipe is a great reason to give it a try.  Use a pot with high sides. Heat up 4 tablespoons of olive oil, with a few popcorn kernels, and the lid on the pot. When the first kernels pop, slide the pan off the heat, and add a cup of un-popped kernels. Back on the flame, shake the pot ( but you really don’t have to do it constantly) over medium high heat, holding the lid almost, but not quite closed (let the steam escape), till the popping stops.

The whole process, including popping the corn, and rolling the balls takes all of a half an hour. The taste of caramel corn, in a portable serving-sized ball. What more can you ask for?

It’s getting dark out early here this afternoon. It’s time to switch on that spider.

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