My husband has a knack for gift-giving, but I’m not talking about flowers or diamonds. He knows that, to me, the popcorn popper he bought for Christmas is so much more exciting than any trinket. Thoughtful and sweet, his presents are enough to make up for the fact that he shrunk all of my delicates this week! My own fault, of course, for suggesting he take a stab at the laundry.
After I discovered that all of my underthings had taken a trip through the hot dryer, and was reasonably cranky, he made up for it with marshmallows. Yeah, I’m easy to please. But he knows how much I adore cocoa during a snow storm, and a mug of cocoa is not complete without a handful of mini marshmallows.
Appeased and armed with pounds of popcorn and mountains of marshmallows, I dove into a sticky, gooey mess. Popcorn balls are fantastic fun. Playing around with tacky marshmallow drizzle would make for a great diversion for little hands. And since you’ve got to work quickly to make the popcorn balls before the marshmallow hardens, I suggest a little help anyway.
You could certainly use any kind of dried fruit you like here, although the raisins and dried cranberries I had in the cabinet added just the right amount of chewy sweetness to the popcorn balls. And if honey roasted peanuts aren’t your thing, cashews might be fun. You could even go for almond or cashew butter instead of the peanut butter. Basically, all of these ingredients are just suggestions, so get creative. Next time I think I’ll add a few chocolate chips.
Although perfect for snacking as is, if you make smaller popcorn balls you might enjoy them as part of a football Sunday spread. When was the last time you had a popcorn ball? Decades, I’d guess. Your friends will get a kick out of the nostalgia! Popcorn balls might also be a fun hostess gift all wrapped up with a bit of ribbon.
Fruit and Nut Popcorn Balls
Makes about 12 2-inch balls
8 cups popcorn (popped without salt or butter)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Nonstick cooking spray
In a large bowl toss together the popcorn, dried fruit, peanuts, and salt. In a large pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring, until melted. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn mixture and incorporate quickly. Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. Working very quickly, form the mixture into 2-inch balls. Place popcorn balls on parchment paper to harden for at least 30 minutes.