I have always been a huge popcorn fan. My husband and I even had a popcorn bar at our wedding. So it's probably no surprise that my boys love popcorn too. Every fall as the weather turns cooler, we make a batch of "The World's Best Popcorn Balls" to share with friends. They are crunchy, chewy, sweet, and slightly salty. It's a yummy combination!
Our first step is probably no surprise: We gathered together our ingredients. What may be surprising, however, is that the first time I made this recipe, I misread the ingredient list and used 5 CUPS of popcorn instead of the intended 5 QUARTS. The result was a gooey mess. So, lesson learned, make sure to use enough popcorn (about 3 popped microwave bags).
We combined the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and water in a saucepan. Since my three-year-old son was helping me, I had him add the ingredients to the pan before placing it on the stove to avoid any accidental burns. Then we moved the pot to the stovetop and cooked it over medium heat.
We stirred the mixture until it reached a temperature of 300 degrees F and then removed it from the burner. I added in the vanilla (to keep my son from burning himself) and mixed well. I then poured the liquid over the popcorn slowly and stirred. This led us to the tough part: Waiting 5 whole minutes for it to cool enough that we could taste it. The photo says it all: The wait was torture.
Fast forward 5 minutes and we took a sample before forming 3" round balls. We placed each ball in a muffin tin to help keep their shape while they cooled.