Popcorn Balls

My grandmother, Jean Darling, is an amazing cook and elegant entertainer. She always sets the most beautiful table, even if it is only for herself. She always had a cutting garden for fresh flowers on her table and always put everything in beautiful dishes. After my grandfather died I spent the night with her every weekend that I catered to keep her company. I would prep cook until very late at the bakery and then come in her back door. In the morning I would wake up and she would have a lovely breakfast table set for me. She drank coffee, I drank tea. She ALWAYS had fresh squeezed orange juice that she squeezed herself every morning. (when I was in high school she would bring me boxes of oranges from her friend's citrus farm. Now my Mom brings her oranges from the Farmer's market every Wednedsay)

I've easily learned 50 or more recipes from her. In the next few months I will attempt to get many of them on the blog to share with you.

This one if for her famous Popcorn Balls that she made every Christmas. The BIG difference in hers is that she uses Brown Sugar. Hers are the very best. I have her recipe written on an index card in her handwriting, but can't locate it. Fortunately, Auntie Sandy, also had a copy (an old stained well used copy!) Granny started adding peanuts in later years because one of the grandkids liked them that way. You can make them with out without the nuts. Enjoy this part of our family tradition!

PS I know sometimes people have a hard time visualizing measurements. When you are trying to figure out how much four quarts of popcorn is, think of how much popcorn would fill up a gallon jug of milk.

Yes, I do have the old stained recipe card for popcorn balls!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup dark or light Karo syrup
1/2 cup water

Cook over medium high heat to soft ball stage then add :
2 T. butter

Continue to cook to hard ball stage then add:
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

4 quarts popped corn

Slowly pour the candy syrup over the corn and mix. With wet or buttered hands, shape into balls.

She sometimes adds peanuts or almonds would be good, as well. We usually made it without nuts.



Notes on "Softball Stage"

Softball Stage on a candy thermometer is 235° F–240° F

At this temperature, sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball. If you remove the ball from water, it will flatten like a pancake after a few moments in your hand.


Made these for a Euchre party last weekend and they were a huge hit! My 14 yr old, Malia, requested them for her class party tomorrow. Good thing they are quick & easy! Thanks for the great recipe!
Kit Willis said…
I made this recipe yesterday and my family loved it. It was my first time using a candy thermometer, and my only difficulty was pouring out the hot syrup over the popcorn: I poured as slowly as I could but I still ended up with a lot of syrup pooled and hardened on the bottom of the bowl. Next time I think I'll try to have a helper-- one person to slowly pour out the syrup and one to stir it in. Since I didn't get it evenly distributed it was difficult to shape the popcorn balls. I ended up with more of a caramel corn type thing, which was still delicious!

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