Sweet, sticky, gooey, and crunchy, these caramel popcorn balls are as much fun to eat as they are to make. They’re an especially crafty project to pull together with kids to keep them busy in the kitchen, and you don’t have to wait until fall to make them.
- Yield: 12 to 15 balls
- 12 cups popped corn
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for shaping the balls
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Candy thermometer
- Spread the popcorn on two lightly buttered baking sheets.
- In a large saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, 1 cup water, the corn syrup, butter, vinegar, and salt and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugars dissolve. Insert a candy thermometer and bring to a boil, without stirring, then cook until the mixture reaches 250°F. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the sugar syrup evenly over the popcorn, tossing the popcorn with a buttered heatproof spatula until completely coated. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- When the popcorn is cool enough to handle, coat your hands with butter and shape the popcorn into large balls; you should have 12 to 15 balls. Let the popcorn balls cool completely.
- Wrap the popcorn balls individually in wax paper or small cellophane bags and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.