Popcorn Balls
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: Makes about 2 quarts popcorn, 15 large or about 30 small popcorn balls.
 
Here's the basic recipe for popcorn balls. You can add spices, herbs, and other ingredients, as you prefer to dress them up for Halloween.
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
  • ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup organic light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium high in a 3-quart saucepan with a lid. Add in a couple of kernels of corn and wait until they pop. Then, add in the rest of the popcorn. Cover the pot and move it a little, shaking to keep all the popcorn moving as all the kernels pop. When the popping dies down, remove the pot from the heat, turn off the burner and let the popcorn cool slightly.
  2. Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan. Set it aside. Put the sugar and the corn syrup in a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, turn up the heat slightly, and simmer until the sugar turns a deep golden brown (but not too dark). You are making caramel. If you wanted to actually measure the temperature of the caramel, it should be around 305 degrees. This takes about five minutes or so. Whisk the butter and salt into the caramel. Add in the warmed cream and the vanilla. Stir until the mixture is thickened, about five more minutes.
  3. You can add flavors to the caramel here if you wish: cayenne pepper, black peppercorn, cinnamon, black cherry juice, extracts like mint, curry and other spices. If you want to get some creative ideas, look at fancy chocolate bars in upscale stores for offbeat flavor combination ideas.
  4. You can add spices, herbs and other ingredients to the popcorn itself also before you pour the caramel over the corn.
  5. Oil your hands with butter, spray release, or cooking oil to prevent them from sticking to the caramel. Make sure the caramel and popcorn mixture cools slightly (and, by the way, you can leave the popcorn just like this rather than shaping into balls). Shape the corn into small bite-sized or larger popcorn balls. I used a small muffin tin to receive our finished popcorn balls and to allow them to air dry slightly.
Recipe by Within The Wild at http://withinthewild.com/2011/10/popcorn-balls/