Oct 12, 2013

Caramel Popcorn Balls


My grandmother always made popcorn balls for Halloween. I never did get her recipe, but I knew it was one of those cooked ones that involved a candy thermometer. I was looking for something that might be a little easier than that. I had seen some recipes that were basically melted marshmallows and popcorn, made like rice krispie treats, but I wanted a different flavor than that; more of a caramel flavor. I did a little research and a couple of experiments, and came up with these.

Sweet and salty, gooey and chewy, this was the exact flavor I was looking for.





Caramel Popcorn Balls
Printable Recipe

Makes 14 popcorn balls (3")

2 and 5/8 cups confectioner's sugar

1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons cool water
3/4 teaspoon salt
15 to 16 heaping cups of popped popcorn (scant 3/4 cup unpopped kernels); I used air popped.
Parchment paper

1. Place popped popcorn into a very large bowl (I used a clean dishpan). Try to make sure all the unpopped kernels are removed- no one wants to bite into one of those! Hold a heaping cup of popcorn back to have in reserve if needed. Set aside.


2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the confectioner's sugar, marshmallows, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt. Heat and stir until mixture is smooth and comes to a boil. Remove from heat.


3. Carefully drizzle hot syrup over popcorn, stirring the popcorn while pouring. Mix well, making sure all the popcorn is evenly covered. If there seems to be an excess of syrup, stir in the extra cup of reserved popcorn. Grease hands with cooking spray. Working quickly before the mixture cools, shape the coated popcorn into balls. Set on parchment paper, without letting the popcorn balls touch, until completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap or cellophane and store at room temperature. Best that day.

Notes: In one batch of the popcorn balls, I used light corn syrup instead of dark. You can see in the pictures that some are slightly darker than the others. The lighter ones tasted fine, we just preferred the more caramel-y taste that the dark syrup provided.





Happy Halloween!


You might also enjoy Dark Chocolate Chewies:




Adapted from allrecipes.com, and shared at these fun parties.




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69 comments:

  1. I love that you don't have to use a candy thermometer. I can't wait to try these. I don't think I have had a popcorn ball since I was in grade school and that was many many moons ago

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    1. Pam, I loved the no-thermometer part, too! I was happy to be able to make these without one! :) Thank you for coming by!

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  2. Oh the pleasant nostalgia you have treated me to this morning! Beautiful picture and a recipie without a candy thermometer ... Ya.. Me and candy thermometers, we don't get along so well! Thanks for the smile and the recipie!:)

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    1. Gail, I don't do so well with recipes requiring candy thermometers...maybe I need a new one or a different one. My grandmother just did the "test a ball of it in a glass of water" thing; I never quite got the hang of that, either. :)

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  3. I remember my mom making these years ago! You just sent me on a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thanks Joy!

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    1. Kris, I got nostalgic, too! :) Since I'm a grandmama now, I decided I better get busy taking up the grandmothering slack around here. ;)

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  4. Thank you for this recipe! I, too have memories of popcorn balls from grade school! I brought home a slip of paper reading "25 popcorn balls" for my 1st grade Halloween party. Mom and dad FREAKED out! Anything but those! They didn't have a clue how to make them! Well, since you don't exactly call a nun on the phone and tell her you're not bringing them, they figured it out. They were great! But somewhere along the line the recipe was lost so I never made them myself. But whenever I see popcorn balls, I'm back in 1st grade, except now I understand that mom and dad wanted to send only a perfect treat to school with their oldest daughter on our first party assignment!

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    1. Oh, Joyce, what a wonderful story!! I can just see a couple of young, anxious parents, wanting their sweet little daughter's assignment to go well! Wouldn't you love to have that recipe! :) Thank you for telling me about your popcorn ball memory!

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  5. These do sound wonderful and they do bring back wonderful memories of getting them in my trick or treat bag! I vaguely remember my Dad making them but mostly I remember eating them! What fun!

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    1. Now you've got me remembering childhood memories of trick or treating- when you could get homemade treats in your bag and it was OK. :) I know you've got some fun things planned for Amara this Halloween- I can't wait to read about them!

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  6. I remember my Grandma always made popcorn balls, but she always made them at Christmas time:) I still love a good popcorn ball! Your recipe sounds wonderful and I think I may have to make some popcorn balls.....something I have never made:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

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    1. Lynn, that sounds like fun, to have them at Christmas! I had never made popcorn balls before, either, but after all the experimenting, I now have a lifetime supply of them. ;)

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  7. My husband would love these!! All your recipes look so good!

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    1. Joann, thank you so much- you are so sweet. My hubby did love 'em....me, too. ;)

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  8. Autumn yummies! Thank you for a delish visit from the Grand Social!

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    1. Autumn yummies are fun, aren't they? I'm so glad you visited from the social, Kaye! :)

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  9. Wow - it's been years! Is there anything more quintessentially Halloween and fall than popcorn balls? Thank you for sharing. Stopping in from Lisa's Grand Social.

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    1. Barb, they were a Halloween tradition for us when I was a kid, and I wanted to bring it back for my grands. :) Thank you so much for coming by!

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  10. Hi Joy, these popcorn balls looks so yummy! This is something that my daughter and I would love and thanks for sharing at kathe with an e.
    Julie

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    1. Thank you, Julie, and thanks for coming by! The popcorn balls are fun for Halloween! :)

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  11. Oh my goodness, Joy--I am grinning like a fool over here. First, my mother in law used to make popcorn balls for Halloween and she'd get so excited about it (she doesn't cook much anymore). Second, I have a very old post about popcorn balls that did require a candy thermometer. And my candy thermometer decided to die. It was an utter mess! I'll have to try this non-thermometer recipe. Thanks for linking!

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    1. Oh, Michelle, I’m so glad you liked them- my Grandmother got excited and happy about making them, too, so these meant a lot to me! I was really happy to start the tradition back up for my family...I don’t know what took me so long. They’re not *exactly* the same (as thermometer popcorn balls), of course, but they bring back the tradition and the Halloween spirit, I guess you’d say, that I was looking for. :) I remember my Grandmother’s popcorn balls being a little crunchier, which you’d get with the hard ball stage syrup. These are a little chewier, I think, but they have a really good caramel flavor.

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  12. Hi Joy! Stopping by from Wake Up Wednesdays and had to come check out your Popcorn Balls - I haven't had them in years. Totally take me back to a kid - Halloween party at school with what else - Popcorn balls. Definitely need to make these with my son! Pinning!

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    1. Halloween parties at school- what a fun memory! Thanks for visiting from WUW, Erin, and thank you for pinning! :)

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  13. Oh I LOVE popcorn balls - they are so much fun

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    1. They are fun, Heather- I love the Halloween tradition of popcorn balls! :)

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  14. Hi Joy. Thanks for linking up this amazing Caramel Popcorn Balls recipe to my SWLP, I appreciate you!

    Love,
    Heather
    MySweetMission.net

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    1. Thank you, Heather, and thanks for hosting! :)

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  15. This is such a fun festive treat!! This is pinned to the Wake up Wednesday pinboard.

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    1. Thank you for pinning and for hosting! :)

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  16. I like caramelized popcorn or nuts! These popcorn ball are so cute, kids sure love them! I also want to have one :)

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    1. Thank you so much! You are right, kids do seem to enjoy popcorn balls- they make a good Halloween treat! :)

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  17. Oh my gosh! This is such a throw back for me. I remember having these as a little girl. During those times, most people made everything due to having little money. It's so easy to pop in the store now and get everything. Brings back memories.... Think I may have to try these with my kids, for sure.

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    1. Sharon, it really brought back memories for me, too! If you and your kids try them, I hope you like them as much as we do! :)

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  18. What a great memory of getting these as a kid. thanks so much for sharing this healthy halloween treat with us on foodie friday.

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    1. They're kind of a fun blast from the past, aren't they? :) Thank you for coming by, and for hosting!

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  19. Hi Joy,
    I just love Popcorn Balls and your Caramel Popcorn Balls look awesome! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you are having a great weekend!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

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    1. Thank you, Miz Helen! I enjoy Full Plate Thursday! :)

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  20. Oh my, Joy! This recipe takes me way back! I remember getting a popcorn ball from a very sweet neighbor as a child every Halloween! :) great memories! Pinning this - Thanks so much for linking up to All My Bloggy Friends this week! :)

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    1. Jamie, thank you for sharing your Halloween popcorn ball memories, and thanks for pinning! I love All My Bloggy Friends! :)

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  21. This is the second popcorn ball recipe I've seen today. I think it's a sign! Perhaps we should make some for Halloween. ;-) I like to make them as stocking stuffers, as well.

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    1. Bethany, if it involves making popcorn balls, I will take it as a sign! ;) I love the idea of the popcorn ball as a stocking stuffer- we always had oranges in the toe of our stockings! ;)

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  22. Must make some :) These sound delicious! Thanks for hooking up at Snickerdoodle Sunday :)

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    1. Millie, thank you so much, and thanks for hosting a great new party! :)

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  23. Gotta try this! I have a bag of marshmallows just waiting to be used. Thanks for the recipe...I willl check out some others you have.

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    1. Nelda, thank you so much for coming by- I appreciate the visit! :)

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  24. It's not fall without popcorn balls! I love making these for the kids every year! Thanks for sharing at Saturday Night Fever!

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    1. Thank you, Tanya, and thanks for hosting! :)

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  25. These look so easy and yummy! I pinned them :)

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    1. Jenn, they are! Thank you for coming by, and for pinning! :)

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  26. That looks like a great recipe. I haven't had popcorn balls since I was in elementary school! Pinning these so I can make them for my kids, and myself of course. Also, I love the ribbons you used. So festive and pretty at the same time.

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    1. Thank you, Marie! You know me, I love the old traditions! Thank you for coming by, and for hosting Let's Pour Tea! :)

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  27. Odd as it sounds the H and I were having a conversation about caramel corn and popcorn balls (me,"You know what you never see anymore? Those popcorn balls." The H, "Grrr" Or maybe it was "Ugh." Anyway a grunt of acknowledgement.) So I was happy to come across this recipe and your lovely blog. I'm making this post my Pick of the Week from Snickerdoodle Sunday. Stop by and grab my featured at button when you have a chance. Now following you, here and on Pinterest. Have a great week!

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  28. My son heard about popcorn balls at school and has been wanting to try them. I like this simple method.

    visiting from Merry Mondays

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  29. I have such fond memories of caramel popcorn as a kid. Yummy salty sweet snack. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday!

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  30. Hi Joy I am coming from The Pretty Pinterest party. I like Rachel have memories of my grandmother making popcorn balls, but then they were using whole cream, and butter to make the, OMG they were wonderful!!! I am liking your version of this recipe, thanks for sharing. I would love it you would stop by and share on Oh My Heartsie Girl this weekends party!!!
    Have a great weekend!
    Karren

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  31. I may be the only person who has never had a homemade popcorn ball --yikes! Pinning so that I can try these and save my kids from the same fate! :)

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  32. G'day! Love this recipe Joy! Thanks for sharing at our #SayGdayParty!
    Cheers! Joanne @ What's On The List Pinned!
    PS Happy Birthday!

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  33. I just bought the girls kettle corn last week as they love it, but never really just how easy it was to make. Not hanks for sharing Joy and have a great weekend ;$

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  34. Popcorn balls always, always remind me of Halloween. Thank you for sharing, Joy.

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  35. Caramel popcorn....Hmmm...sounds amazing.

    Love the little treat bags too!

    Thanks for linking up to Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning.

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  36. Love.love.love caramel popcorn!

    Thanks for linking up with us last week at Teach Me Tuesday. We very much appreciate having you. Hope to see you again this week. Starts Monday evening @ 8pm CST.

    Have a great week!!

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  37. My son would love these popcorn balls! Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. All posts get pinned in our pinterest board! Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on culinaryflavors.gr ! I hope to see you there!

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  38. I remember these from when I was a kid too. Thanks so much for linking up to Dare to Share this week. You are today's Dare to Share Feature of the Day!

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  39. I featured your project on Monday Funday! Thanks for linking up with us! xo - Cheryl @ That's What Che Said...

    http://www.thatswhatchesaid.net/2014/11-last-minute-halloween-ideas-monday-funday-link-party/

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  40. What a great treat, we will love your Caramel Popcorn Balls. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing your great post with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  41. Love caramel popcorn balls. Cute packaging with the ribbons too. Thanks for linking up at Show Me Saturday! Hope to see you there again this week.

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  42. What's a Halloween without popcorn balls? Thanks for sharing your recipe @DearCreatives party!

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