Happy Gluten-Free Halloween, ya’ll! I’ve seen about a million sites that tell us what candy is and is not gluten-free for the big day, so I’ll leave that one to the very diligent candy police. Instead, I’m going to go on and on about these gluten-free caramel and sea salt popcorn balls I made to celebrate the holiday. Also, to take a break from my dairy-free, sugar-free diet. WORTH IT.
When I was a kid people used to give out popcorn balls where I trick or treated, until everyone started freaking out about homemade goods on Halloween. What a bummer, seeing as how popcorn balls were my favorite treat and some lady always managed to make up a sugary sweet batch in our neighborhood. Karo syrup is kind of a kitchen staple where I grew up, so any excuse to bust it out was a good one as far as we were all concerned. So I’m carrying on my childhood tradition by bringing out the Whirleypop –
. . . and the Karo, and creating my very own gluten-free caramel.
Yes, one could melt a bunch of caramel candies and have a similar end result, but caramel color is known to be one of those sneaky gluten things, so to be safe you should melt up your own. As long as you have a candy thermometer, you’re in business.
And just to go all foodie on the old timey tradition, I sprinkled fine sea salt over the popcorn prior to coating it with the delicious caramel goodness. Because who doesn’t love salty-sweet? Parents who are afraid of the new people who moved in and are suddenly giving out homemade treats, that’s who. Wusses.
Happy Halloween everybody! Make up your own sweet treats for trick or treaters this way:
Gluten-Free Caramel & Sea Salt Popcorn Balls
Prep time: 7 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fine sea salt
1. Add 2 tablespoon of the oil to a 4 quart saucepan, or popcorn popper, and heat over high heat. When oil is hot, add 1/2 cup of popping corn. Keep pan moving constantly. When corn stops popping, remove from heat. Transfer to large bowl and dust evenly with sea salt.
2. In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer inserted, combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir well and bring to boiling over medium heat. Stir in condensed milk; simmer, stirring constantly, until thermometer reads 238 degrees F (114 degrees C). Stir in vanilla.
3. Pour caramel over popped corn and stir to coat. Butter hands lightly; shape popcorn into balls about 2 inches in diameter.
Makes: 24 popcorn balls