Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Samhain/Halloween Treats! - Popcorn Balls and Cookies

This is the last of the cooking over the weekend. If you remember from before, I had planned on finishing up with my great-grandpa's popcorn balls and stamped cookies. Stamped cookies. Who said they were supposed to be easy? Maybe it's just me. It probably is. Either way, they didn't work out. At all.

SO I fixed those cookies. The royal icing and all worked just fine, so I made spiderwebs instead and used some of the leftover sprinkles from the cake pops to stick on the webs.

Sorry they're covered in plastic wrap. I remembered to take the picture after I had covered them, and if the plastic wrap came off, more cookies would be consumed. They did not need consuming at that time.

Shortbread Cookies
Mix together: 1 1/2 C flour, 1/2 C powdered sugar, 1 C softened butter, 1 T vanilla. Make sure it's very smooth. Bake 13-15 minutes in the oven at 350*. Cool 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks.

Chocolate Cookies
8oz softened butter
1C powdered sugar
1C cocoa powder
1t vanilla
3/4t salt
1 1/2C flour

Preheat oven to 350*.
Mix butter til smooth, then add sugar and cream.
Add cocoa, vanilla and salt. 
Mix til the consistency of thick frosting.
Add flour and mix until just combined.
Make a ball and knead slightly.
Flatten to 1/2" thick or so.
Cover and freeze 15 minutes.
Roll out to 1/8" thick or so.
Bake 10 minutes.

Royal Icing
I used Sweet Sugar Belle's recipe for royal icing. Then I colored and prepared it like she said. Then I stored the remains like she said. Sweet Sugar Belle, you're awesome. I also did the trick with the plastic wrap in the frosting bags. It was amazing. ThankYouThankYouThankYou.

I made a half batch of what her recipe calls for. Even with all of my messed up cookies and stuff and making webs on them, I could have used only 1/4 of the batch. I dropped off the rest with my grandparents. They'll figure something out to do with it. If not, they can throw it away. 

Pa's Popcorn Balls
They're cuter when my dad does them. And they were cuter when Pa did them when I was younger. But I have smaller hands that aren't quite as calloused, so no amount of butter will make me excited about sticking my hands in stuff that's taking it's time cooling off from 303* F. Nope. Calloused hands are a virtue in this recipe.

5-6 quarts popcorn (from an air popper)
1 cup syrup (I used Mrs. Butterworths Original because that's what we had.)
1 cup brown sugar (dark is preferable, light will work)
1 pat butter
shot of vanilla
pinch of salt

Place popcorn in a large, heavy, buttered pot.
Bring other ingredients to a hard crack stage (I went to 303* because that's what Dad told me to do.)
Drizzle slowly over popcorn while mixing with a buttered wooden spoon - 2 people works best.
Shape with HEAVILY buttered hands and let cool on wax paper.
Wrap in plastic wrap.

These are still one of my favorite things in the world, just because Pa and Granny used to make them. The same goes for oyster gumbo. And duck. It was a Pa and Granny thing, so it's kind of homage to them to make this for Halloween.

Happy Samhain/Halloween, guys.

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