My 12-year-old niece asked out of the blue the other day, as we were driving home from soccer, if we could make popcorn balls. Why yes, of course — and what a great idea! When we were kids, my mom would hang homemade edible ornaments on the tree — popcorn balls and little handfuls of M&Ms — wrapped in cellophane. I loved it. I had forgotten.
She suggested caramel popcorn balls, and so that’s what we did. I found a recipe at AllRecipes and adapted it — found 2 1/2 cups of unpopped kernels to be far too much — the addition of spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) is optional, but festive.
Spiced Caramel Popcorn Balls
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup or corn syrup
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
pinch cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
Pop the popcorn in a hot air popper or on the stovetop; place in a large bowl that has been sprayed inside with nonstick spray.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and syrup. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until a candy thermometer reads 238 degrees F (114 degrees C).
Pour caramel over the popcorn and quickly stir to coat well. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then shape into balls whatever size you like. Makes about two dozen popcorn balls. Wrap them individually in cellophane or plastic wrap.