Sweet and chewy popcorn balls are a "hoot" when they're formed into wide-eyed owls perfect for a Halloween party. They take a little bit of assembly but draw a lot of compliments. —Emma Magielda, Amsterdam, New York
- 5 quarts air-popped popcorn
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons marshmallow creme
- Candy corn, orange candy slices, milk chocolate M&M's and salted cashews
- Place popcorn in a large oven-proof bowl; keep warm in oven at 200° In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 250° (hard-ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vinegar until butter is melted. Immediately pour over popcorn; toss to coat.
- When mixture is cool enough to handle, quickly shape into five 3-1/4-in. balls and five 4-in. balls, dipping hands in cold water to prevent sticking. Flatten bottom of popcorn balls slightly to allow them to sit flat. Place a small ball on top of a large ball, forming the owl's head and body.
- Immediately decorate owl, using marshmallow creme to attach candies. Add candy corn for claws. Press the orange slices into sides for wings. Flatten and cut additional orange slices into semicircles for ears and 3/4-in. circular eyes. Press M&M's into orange circles to complete the eyes. Add a cashew for each beak. Yield: 5 owls.
Originally published as Popcorn Owls in Taste of Home October/November 2002, p9
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