It’s not too soon to plan for the trick-or-treaters on Halloween, especially if you will be sharing some homemade goodies.

When I was growing up in the mill village, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on store-bought treats, so Mother had to supplement our goodie bags with homemade treats. Our house became one of the favorite places to visit, mostly because of Mother’s popcorn balls.

Mother would buy a big bag of popcorn, then pop it and hold it together with sorghum syrup, which we almost always had on hand. It was definitely this Southern syrup that made her popcorn balls so special. Corn syrup can be used in the following recipe, but it won’t taste as good as the sorghum.

(I know that I have shared this recipe with you before, but for some reason when time comes to make the popcorn balls, the recipe can’t be found, so here it is again.)

Another tasty treat that both young and old will enjoy are pecan puffs. When my friend and assistant Mauna and I went to the Smoky Mountains, she always wanted to go by the candy shop and pick up some of these favorite candies. Later, she wanted to see if we could make these, and they turned out great. You might want to make several batches of these if you have plenty of pecans.

How about something for those little chocoholics? Surprise Brownie Rounds will bring smiles to their faces. Be sure they know that there is peanut butter in these in case they might be allergic to it.

PECAN PUFFS

  • 36 to 40 caramels (I use Kraft’s individually wrapped caramels)
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 16 large marshmallows
  • 1 ⅓ cups finely chopped toasted pecans

Unwrap the caramels and combine with milk in a medium-sized glass bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and, if needed, microwave for another 15 seconds. Repeat as needed until caramels are melted. Dip each marshmallow into the caramel mixture and then coat well with the pecans. It might be necessary to turn the marshmallows from time to time until the caramel sets.

NOTE: To toast the pecans, place them on a baking sheet before chopping and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan after 5 minutes to toast the pecans evenly.

SOUTHERN POPCORN BALLS

  • 1 cup sorghum syrup
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 cups popcorn (popped without oil or butter)

Combine syrup and sugar in heavy skillet. I like to use an iron skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium high heat. Cook, stirring often with wooden spoon, until mixture will spin a thread when dropped from the spoon (or to a firm ball stage). Stir in vanilla. Pour over the popped corn and stir until well coated. Butter your hands and form into balls. Mixture will be very hot so handle it carefully.

SURPRISE BROWNIE ROUNDS

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (9-11 ounce) box pie crust mix
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar. Blend well and then roll into small balls about ½ inch in diameter. Place in freezer. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Drop from tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Press a peanut butter ball into center of each chocolate mound. With slightly wet fingers, pull chocolate dough over peanut butter balls, forming a peak. Cookies will look like little teepees. They will flatten slightly while baking. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Contact Prudence Hilburn at prudencehilburn@aol.com.