When I was a little girl, my mother and I made these popcorn balls for family and friends at Christmas. Now my husband and I carry on the tradition, turning out more than 250 each December-and still our list keeps growing!
- 4 quarts popped popcorn
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 24 miniature candy canes
- Place popcorn in a large greased bowl or roasting pan; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the water, baking soda and vanilla; set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine corn syrup and butter; heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Add sugar; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reaches 230° (thread stage), about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla mixture (mixture will foam) until blended. Immediately pour over popcorn, stirring to coat evenly. Cool for about 5 minutes, stirring several times.
- When cool enough to handle, firmly shape with buttered hands into 2-in. balls. Insert straight end of candy cane in the center of each ball. Yield: 2 dozen.
Originally published as Candy Cane Popcorn Balls in Country Woman Christmas Annual 2003, p27
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