Growing up, my Grandma and Grandpa would make popcorn balls for Halloween, which is also my birthday. It was a lot of fun getting together in the kitchen to get ready for Trick-or-Treat and party time. My grandmother's recipe uses high fructose corn syrup, which was common back then, but I've updated it using all natural ingredients to make the delicious caramel. For more fun, I've added a modern twist by rolling the popcorn balls in favorite snacks, like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Snyder's Nuggets, crushed wasabi peas and my honey Sriracha pumpkin seeds. But you can use whatever snack ingredient you like! The most important thing is to have fun!
Makes 12 popcorn balls
- 10 cups of movie theater popcorn or popped plain, unsalted popcorn
- Cooking spray for greasing
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Assorted snacks for extra deliciousness:
Place the popcorn in a large bowl greased with cooking spray. **If using Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, mix in two cups to the popcorn bowl now.
In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, water, honey and butter and heat over medium heat until melted and combined. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Dip a pastry brush into the mixture and brush the sides of the pot to remove any sugar granules. Place a candy thermometer in the pot and let the caramel boil until it registers 300ºF and it turns light golden in color, about 9-10 minutes – DO NOT STIR or TOUCH. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the salt and vanilla.
Carefully pour the caramel over the popcorn and fold with a rubber spatula until all the popcorn kernels are coated. Allow the coating to cool slightly for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, spray a 1 cup measuring cup with cooking spray as well as a pair of plastic gloves or small sandwich-sized plastic bags (the caramel popcorn will be hot to the touch, so these protect your hands).
With the gloves or plastic bags on your hands, scoop the caramel corn into the measuring cup and form into popcorn balls using both hands. Place each popcorn ball on a rimmed baking sheet until finished.
Once formed, roll the popcorn balls in your desired snacks. Return to the baking sheet and let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. The popcorn balls will last up to 5-7 days.