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Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Caramel Popcorn Balls
This is my mom's recipe that we've been making ever since I can remember. I'm not sure where it came from originally. It' easy, and good! And uses few ingredients! These popcorn balls disappear way too fast; they're so delicious and addicting. We just made these the other night as a family activity; even my 3-year old got involved and made one tiny little popcorn ball, which he proudly showed us, and then ate.
*The recipe states to pop enough popcorn to make 9-10 quarts. I've never really measured this. I pop my popcorn on the stove (and you should too!); no micorwave stuff for this recipe. (Although, an air popper would be good, or popping in a paper bag in the microwave. I just don't want anyone using hydrogenated-laden processed micro popcorn for this). When I made this recipe, I usually do about 3 "batches" of popcorn, using a little over a cup of unpopped kernels. Hopefully this info is helpful. The more popcorn you pop, the drier your popcorn balls will be; the less you pop, the more caramel-ier your popcorn balls will be. :)
*After popping the corn, kind of sift through it and get all the unpopped kernels out (they'll usually be on the bottom of the bowl). This way, you don't bite into a hard unpopped kernel and hurt your tooth.
*Be careful when forming this into balls; the caramel is super hot and can burn your hands. Wait a few minutes to form balls, but not too long, or the caramel will start to set.
*We spray our hands with Pam when forming balls, so our hands don't stick; it makes the job a lot easier.
*When we made these recently, I found I only had a half a cup of corn syrup on hand, so I used 1/2 cup mild honey to make up the difference. It was really yummy that way!
*We just made these again for Christmas season 2013. This time around, I added some sea salt for a salted caramel flavor- add to taste. I also added 1/2 tablespoon of my homemade vanilla extract. So good!
*This recipe doesn't use a candy thermometer, but the firm ball stage instead. This is the definition of the firm ball stage: 245° F–250° F; Drop a little of this syrup in cold water and it will form a firm ball, one that won’t flatten when you take it out of the water, but remains malleable and will flatten when squeezed.
Caramel Popcorn Balls
9-10 quarts popped popcorn
1 pound brown sugar (approx 2- 1/4 cups)
1 cup white corn syrup (can use half honey, if desired)
1/2 cup (1 cube) salted butter
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. sea salt, optional
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Set popcorn aside in a few large bowls. We like to go through this and get rid of any un-popped kernels to save our teeth.
2. In a large, heavy pan, combine brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Addbutter and stir until melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and cook to the firm ball stage. (See tip above.) Remove from the heat. Stir in sea salt and vanilla extract. Pour over popped popcorn and stir well. Let cool slightly, then form balls and set them on wax paper to set.