Popular around Christmas and other wintertime holidays, popcorn balls are a wonderful treat that can be enjoyed any time of the year. It is possible to use popcorn prepared by just about any method, and requires nothing more than a few simple ingredients and about a half hour of time. There are a number of popcorn ball recipes available, many of them adding various types of sweets into the mixture. To get you started, here is a basic recipe that you can try.
For the basic recipe, you need a half cup (120 ml)of unpopped popcorn and a quarter cup (60 ml)of some type of cooking oil. If you prefer to not use oil-popped popcorn, there is always the option of using air-popped popcorn. To save time, you can also purchase some type of microwave popcorn or a bag of movie-style popcorn to use for the popcorn balls.
To create the basic coating, combine a half cup (120 ml)of dark corn syrup, a half cup (120 ml) of granulated sugar, and a half teaspoon (2.5 ml)of table salt. Keep in mind the mixture will be somewhat thick while mixing, but it will thin once it is applied to the popcorn.
Once the coating is prepared, place the popped corn into a four quart (3.8 liter) kettle over medium heat. Gradually stir in the coating, taking care to uniformly coat each of the popped kernels. Continue to stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the coating has left a thin layer over all the popcorn in the kettle.
Remove the coated popcorn from the heat. Using the hands, scoop out a small amount of the mixture and begin to form the popcorn balls. While you want them to resemble the dimensions of the average baseball, don’t worry if they are not perfectly round. Continue the process until you have formed a total of twelve popcorn balls. Place them on a sheet of wax paper and allow them to cool to room temperature.
One handy tip is to use a small amount of margarine or butter to coat your hands before you begin to form the popcorn balls. This will make it easier to handle the sticky mixture and not impact the taste or texture of the finished product in any way.
After the popcorn balls have cooled, you can begin to wrap them in plastic wrap or arrange them on a serving platter for a dessert table. It is not unusual for people to wrap popcorn balls in colored plastic wrap, then secure the wrap with some type of colorful ribbon. This is a common approach when the plan is to use the sweets as ornaments on a tree or as part of a gift basket.