By Family Features | Contributor
From watching scary movies to dressing up as ghouls and goblins, spooky season means it’s time to pop up your loved ones’ favorite snacks for a ghostly good time. Before heading out to trick-or-treat, gather your minions in the kitchen for some family-friendly fun crafting these haunting yet tasty treats.
Throughout October, you can honor National Popcorn Poppin’ Month with eerie, delicious eats like Spooky Popcorn Spider Web, Green Halloween Zombies, Witchy Popcorn Balls and Popcorn Caramel Apples that add festive fun to the Halloween excitement.
As a perfect ingredient in treats of all types, popcorn is beloved for its seed-to-snack simplicity as a non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free snack that’s naturally low in fat and calories. Add in its irresistible smell, taste and versatility, and it’s easy to see why it pairs so well with spooky celebrations.
Spooky Popcorn Spider Web
Yield: 1 spider web
1/4 cup butter
8 cups mini marshmallows, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9 cups popped popcorn, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
black string licorice
Line round pizza pan with parchment paper; set aside. In large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; stir in 5 cups marshmallows, stirring constantly, 3-4 minutes, or until completely melted. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat. Stir in 8 cups popcorn until coated. Spread onto prepared pizza pan in irregular round shape, about 1-inch thick, to resemble spider web. Refrigerate about 15 minutes, or until firm.
In microwave, melt remaining marshmallows about 20 seconds, or until melted. Using spatula, string strands of melted marshmallow over popcorn spider web to create cobweb effect.
In heatproof bowl set over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips; cool slightly. In large bowl of remaining popcorn, pour chocolate over popcorn, folding gently to coat. Spread mixture on waxed paper-lined baking sheet, separating into eight small clusters. Affix two candy eyes to each popcorn cluster. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes, or until set.
Melt remaining chocolate chips. Cut licorice into 1-inch lengths. Using small spoon, dab circles of chocolate onto spider web. Affix chocolate-coated popcorn onto chocolate circles. Affix licorice lengths to chocolate popcorn clusters to resemble spider legs.
Refrigerate 15 minutes, or until set. To serve, cut into smaller pieces.
Witchy Popcorn Balls
Yield: 8 popcorn balls
16 chocolate wafer cookies
nonstick cooking spray
3 quarts popped popcorn
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
3 cups miniature marshmallows
3 tablespoons (1/2 of 3-ounce box) lime gelatin dessert mix
green food color (optional)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
8 chocolate ice cream cones
orange sugar sprinkles, placed in small dish
Spread sheet of waxed or parchment paper over work surface and place wafer cookies on it.
Spray large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows and gelatin powder until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Adjust color with 1-2 drops food color, if desired. Pour mixture over popcorn and mix until coated.
Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray and press firmly to form into eight balls. Place balls on eight wafer cookies. Press candy decorations into popcorn balls to form “eyes,” “nose” and “mouth.”
In small, microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips, covered, 10 seconds. Stir to aid melting. Repeat as needed until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon melted chocolate on top of each popcorn ball. Press licorice strings into chocolate to form “hair.”
Dip cone edges into melted chocolate then orange sugar sprinkles. Place on remaining wafer cookies to form “witches’ hats.” Place hats on popcorn balls. Allow chocolate to set about 45 minutes before serving.
Serve or seal individually in plastic wrap.
Green Halloween Zombies
Yield: about 7 pieces
2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cups mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons lime gelatin powder
red gum balls
flat green candy strips or fruit leather
green sugar sprinkles
Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside.
In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir marshmallows into butter until melted. Stir in gelatin powder until evenly colored.
Pour melted mixture over popcorn and stir until evenly coated. With buttered hands, shape popcorn into seven ovals.
Flatten one oval slightly and squeeze one end to form “skull” shape. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ovals.
To decorate: Press two gumballs into each skull to form “eyes.” Press candy corn into skull to form “teeth.” Use scissors to trim candy strips and press into top for “hair.” Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.
Allow “zombies” to set about 20 minutes before wrapping individually in plastic wrap or serve immediately.
Popcorn Caramel Apples
Yield: 4 apples
1 quart freshly popped popcorn
1 package (9 1/2 ounces, 35 total) caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup light cream or half-and-half
4 lollipop sticks or wooden candy apple sticks
1/2 cup chocolate chips
decorative ribbon (optional)
Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside. Place sheet of waxed paper on work surface.
In small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat caramels and cream. Stir frequently until caramels are melted and cream is blended into caramels.
Push one stick into apple center and dip into caramel. Spoon caramel over apple to coat. Repeat with remaining apples
Place caramel-coated apple in bowl of popcorn and press popcorn onto caramel to cover. Place apple on waxed paper to set; repeat with remaining apples.
In small, resealable plastic bag, microwave chocolate chips 10 seconds and press chips to aid melting. Repeat, heating at 10-second intervals, until chips are completely melted. Cut small corner off bag and squeeze chocolate onto each apple, allowing chocolate to drip down sides. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.
Tie bow to each apple stick, if desired. To serve, cut apples into slices.
Find more Halloween treats at popcorn.org.