Grandma's Popcorn Balls remind me of visits to her home in Tennessee. The sweetness of the simple sugar and the saltiness of the corn is the perfect combination.
Trick-or-Treating is a fun time for young and old. Orange pumpkins, children's costumes, and candied apples are all reminiscent of the season. However, nothing reminds me more of the bewitching holiday than popcorn balls.
In today's world, homemade treats on All Hallows Eve are a thing of the past. People with bad intentions spoiled this component of the holiday spirit for everybody. Still, we can make these delicious delicacies for ourselves as well as for family and friends.
When recreating the memory of my Grandma's kitchen, I can recall her popping the corn on the stovetop. Typically, the grandchildren entered the kitchen when the food was ready. It also applied to receiving popcorn balls.
To me, the incredible thing was how they stayed fresh, chewy, and gooey. I made a recipe a few years back and didn't achieve the same effect. (You can see my post for pink popcorn balls from 2020). I love the idea of adding color. I wanted to try my Grandma's recipe just as she wrote it before tweaking it...as I'll do with all of her recipes.
Seven cups of popcorn (one big bag of microwaveable popcorn is equivalent)
It makes about seven nice size popcorn balls
One cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of light corn syrup
One teaspoon of sea salt
One teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
Melt the water and granulated sugar together on medium heat on the stovetop. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on medium heat. The simple sugar needs to reach the 'soft-ball' stage. (I had to look this up). The candy thermometer should read 235 degrees. If you don't have a candy thermometer, place a small amount of the syrup in cold water to see if a small ball forms.
I didn't have a candy thermometer so I used a meat thermometer. Also, I tried the water test. It took me about three minutes to get to the 'soft-ball' stage... constantly stirring.
Once the simple sugar is ready, drizzle over the popcorn. Stir it quickly. The simple sugar is hot. Let it cool to a lukewarm temperature.
Make the popcorn balls with buttered hands. I had to wash and butter my hands a couple of times during the process. Cool on parchment paper. Store.