Saturday, April 3, 2010

Popcorn Balls

My son has been bringing home cookbooks from his school’s library lately.  He isn’t much into reading. (I’m sure this is fairly normal for a 9-year-old boy, though the rest of the family doesn’t understand since we are all voracious readers.  Maybe he will grow to love reading.)  He brings home the cookbooks, and wants to cook with me.  I love this!  I promised to make candy with him last weekend. 

It was a beautiful weekend in northern California, so we spent most of Saturday gardening.  On Sunday we squeezed in some time to make popcorn balls.  Les and my son popped the popcorn, and then my son and I made the candy syrup to coat the popcorn.  This is a really simple recipe.  Just make sure the candy is cool enough before you handle the coated popcorn.  The candy stays hot on the bottom of the pan (don’t ask how I know!).

The popcorn balls are sweet and delicious, and the kids loved taking them to school for a snack.

Popcorn Balls

Adapted from Candy (I forgot to write down the authors before my son took the book back to the library.)
(For a printable version of this recipe click here.)
12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Butter for your hands

Pop the popcorn ahead of time place on a baking sheet, and keep it warm in a low oven.   I popped the popcorn in our popcorn popper, and didn’t add salt.

Combine the sugars, corn syrups, butter, water, vinegar and salt in a large saucepan, and cook covered over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Cook the mixture over medium high heat to 250°F using a candy thermometer to determine the temperature.  Take the pan off the heat, and add the vanilla.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and pour the candy mixture evenly over the popcorn.  Stir until the popcorn is coated. 

When the popcorn is cool enough to handle (The candy is very hot, make sure you cool it enough before you handle it!) coat your hands with butter, and shape the popcorn into balls.  Store the popcorn balls wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.  Makes 12 to 15 popcorn balls.


  1. This is your brain. This is your brain on caramel.

  2. hy,can i substitute corn syrup with something else?!thanx

  3. Hi Anonymous, You could add 1/4 cup more of brown and 1/2 cup granulated sugar with another 3/4 cup of water, but the corn syrup does help the candy stay smooth and clear. The mixture with just sugar might be more grainy. You could also try honey, but honey is sweeter than the corn syrup. I hope this helps. Janice

  4. I love this recipe too! I have fond memories of popcorn balls from when I was a child (a neighbor lady made the best). I am bookmarking this one too! Thanks!

  5. Oh Janice, you brought back memories, candy thermometer, popcorn and waiting....thanks, I think I'll make these soon and even have a few bites as I am watching my sugar, food can bring back so many memories,thanks for bringing a fond one back. PS Do you can? Have to make some things that I might as well can, do you think you could help me out?

  6. Hi HoneyB, I remember making these with my Aunt and cousins. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth in them. Thanks for reading! Janice

    Hi Dana, I've been making and canning jam recently, and I would be happy to help. I found a tomato jam that looks good. Let me know when you want to get together... Janice

  7. Are these soft and chewy or are they hard?

    1. This will be soft --- You need to get to 300F to get to a hard crack stage.



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