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This is a very basic and easy recipe that has the benefit of being delicious! This makes a great first try at a traditional holiday treat. Don't forget to prepare your hands.
Beginner's Popcorn Balls
2 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 t. butter
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Put popcorn in a large, 4-inch deep, buttered baking pan. Keep warm in the oven. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, butter and salt in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cook until mixtures reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in vanilla. Remove popcorn from oven. Pour syrup mixture over popcorn, stirring to mix well. Form into balls. Makes approximately 8 balls.
Some simple variations:
To make "Spice Balls," substitute one tablespoon of powdered spice or crushed herbs for the vanilla.
To make "Butterballs," increase the butter to 1/3 cup and increase the vanilla to two teaspoons. Add yellow food coloring.
Add a powdered, flavored ingredient, such as one tablespooon of instant-coffee powder, two tablespoons of instant tea powder, or 1/3 cup of non-dairy creamer powder.