Entertaining

Children of the Popcorn

Snack like a chef at your Halloween horror movie night
Photo: Tasting Table
Popcorn Balls

Chefs' children must have it made. World-class taco nights, enviable packed lunches and three-tiered birthday cakes, right?

Not so fast. Kids of chefs, your parents are stealing your candy.

"I sneak into my boys' [Halloween] bags when they go to sleep and confiscate a few peanut butter cups," chef David Guas of Washington, D.C.'s Bayou Bakery confesses. "I put them in the side drawer next to my bed."

Award-winning Los Angeles chocolatier Valerie Gordon goes after Snickers. "I sneak a couple of them from my kids' trick-or-treat bags and pop them in the freezer."

Busy as they may be with sous-vide pork loins and 60-minute eggs, top chefs aren't immune to Halloween and its promise of sugar shock. To Timothy Meyers, chef de cuisine at New York City's Charlie Bird, October means Bottle Cap season: "I trick-or-treated every year to an embarrassingly mature age just in hopes of getting as many as possible."

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We've got a sweet tooth for the holiday, too, and this year we're satisfying it with a popcorn ball studded with candy corn and salty peanuts (see the recipe). Popcorn is traditionally the perfect snack for a night of watching scary movies, the ultimate Halloween tradition. "The salt drives you to go back for more, and the act of popping it into your mouth is so addictive," Travis McShane, the chef at Adele's in Nashville, says. Top Chef alum Richard Blais agrees. "It's perfect for sharing, but I'm holding the bucket."

Our well-rounded snack takes one major cue from chefs: It's both salty and sweet. Before there were Maldon-salt-topped caramels, there was good old salty-sweet popcorn. Guas's homemade "porkorn" snack is as Southern as it gets: Tennessee bacon, Virginia peanuts and salted caramel popcorn. Gabby Rios of Salisbury, Connecticut's White Hart Inn also takes the salted caramel road by finishing her salty kernels with homemade vanilla caramel sauce. And McShane sometimes mixes in his favorite candy, like Hot Tamales and Junior Mints.

But our popcorn balls take it one step further—they wear a costume. They are cloaked in black, thanks to a couple of drops of food coloring, making them spooky enough to pair with that inevitable scary movie moment when you scream: "Don't go in there!"

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