Popcorn Balls

Popcorn Balls

This will teach those little punks to come knockin’ on my door on Halloween.

Actually, these things are delicious and individually-wrapped, small versions (say 2 inches diameter) are perfect for trick-or-treat giving. And if every other one just happens to have broccoli in the middle of it, or maybe some garlic … well that’s the “trick” to the “treat” now isn’t it?

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Popcorn Balls

  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 ounces popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt*
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs (optional but strongly suggested)
  • 7 1/2 ounces light corn syrup (approximately 2/3 cup)
  • 7 ounces granulated sugar (approximately 1 cup)
  • 4 1/2 ounces molasses (approximately 1/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Non-stick spray for shaping
  • Broccoli florets and peeled garlic cloves (optional but suggested)
  1. Combine the oil, popcorn and salt in a large, 6-quart, metal mixing bowl. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and poke 10 slits in the top with a knife. Put the bowl over medium heat and shake constantly using tongs to hold the bowl. Continue shaking until the popcorn finishes popping, approximately 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and carefully remove the foil. Stir in any salt that is on the side of the bowl and remove any un-popped kernels. Sprinkle in the cocoa nibs.
  2. Combine the corn syrup, sugar, molasses, water, salt and vanilla in a 3 1/2-quart saucepan and put it over medium heat. Cover and bring to boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lid and clip on a candy thermometer. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F. Take the pan off the heat, remove the candy thermometer and immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn. Stir to coat the popcorn evenly. Cool until the mixture can be handled safely, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using a large ice cream disher, scoop the popcorn mixture into 2 or 3-inch rounds and place on a parchment-lined half sheet pan, smoothing with non-stick sprayed hands as needed. (This is best achieved by a 2-person operation.) Cool completely. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container. Store for up to 3 days at room temperature.
  4. If you want to hide a “trick” in the center every now and then, just spread some of the popcorn in an oiled hand, position the broccoli or garlic on top and kind of mold the popcorn mixture around it. (Actually, I use nitrile gloves from the drug store as well as non-stick spray.)

* You can make your own popcorn salt by giving some kosher salt a whirl in your food processor.


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    These look amazing! I’ve been looking for good uses for my cocoa nibs. Is there a substitute for the corn syrup? My friend is allergic to corn syrup, but I’d love to make these for our Halloween movie night!

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