It’s officially November and that means holiday parties at home, work and school, not to mention fun days at home with the family that are just crying out for a simple snack. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t love popcorn balls. The great thing about popcorn balls is how versatile they are. You can go traditional, as we do here with the delicious salted caramel popcorn balls. Or you can go modern, with the Indian-influenced Coconut Curry popcorn balls. These two recipes for popcorn balls that should please everyone’s palette.
Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls
What You Need
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (half a stick)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup canned sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
10 cups popped plain popcorn
1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
Directions: First line a large baking sheet with greased parchment paper. Next make the caramel mixture by combining the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter has melted, stirring occasionally. Then bring to a boil and add the condensed milk. Boil for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently so the milk doesn’t burn.
Then remove the mixture from the heat and stir in half the salt.
Take the popped popcorn and pecans in a large bowl and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Stir carefully to coat the popcorn completely. Let the mixture cool slightly, for approximately 3 minutes.
When the popcorn has cooled enough to handle, coat your hands with the cooking spray and roll the popcorn mixture into balls. Try to keep them about 2 inches. If it helps you visualize the size, measure out about 1/4 cup of popcorn per ball for reference.
Place the balls on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with the rest of the salt. Let them cool completely before handling. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature; do not refrigerate. The recipe makes about 25 popcorn balls.
Coconut-Curry Popcorn Balls
What You Need
9 cups plain popped popcorn
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened angel flake coconut, toasted
1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger
Directions: Coat a heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray and place popcorn in the bowl.
Next put the sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan, stir to combine and cook over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260°F on a candy/fat thermometer (normally about 5 to 7 minutes.) Then remove the mix from the heat, and stir in butter, curry powder, and vanilla. Stir until the ingredients have melted and the mixture is smooth.
Immediately drizzle the sugar mixture over popcorn while it is still liquid. Add your ginger and coconut and keep stirring with a rubber spatula until the popcorn is coated all over and cool enough to be handled. Approximately 3 minutes.
Coat your hands with cooking spray or butter and press the mixture into 3 inch balls. Place the finished balls on parchment paper to cool. They should be ready in 15-20 minutes. This recipe makes about 6 very large popcorn balls.