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December 15, 2009

Caramel Popcorn Balls

Caramel popcorn balls are an impressive Christmas decoration and a great treat for children. My mom made popcorn balls with my sister and me every Christmas. We wrapped them in plastic wrap, tied them with red ribbons, attached candy canes to them, and hung them on the tree. On Christmas Day we gathered these popcorn ball decorations and gave them to my cousins as gifts, saving some for ourselves, of course!

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All who knew my mom appreciated her creative efforts at Christmas. I remember fondly how she decorated the fireplace mantel with evergreens from our back yard, huge popcorn balls, and big candy canes. One year when she was working at the local middle school, a group of student carolers came to our home. Thirty children filled the living room and sang, much to the delight of my parents. Mom gave a decorated popcorn ball to each child. That was Christmas from her heart and a great tradition over the years.

Caramel Popcorn Balls
Joan Styrna, joancooks.com

4-5 quarts popped corn
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup molasses
½ cup sugar

Pick over the popped corn, discard any unpopped kernels, and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Add the sugar and molasses. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. The sugar should come to the brittle stage, 270°.

Pour the mixture over the popped popcorn and with a rubber spatula, quickly stir the popcorn around until it is coated with the sugar mixture.

Butter your hands and gently press the popcorn into balls, the size of a baseball. Wrap each separately in plastic wrap, twisting the tops to close.

Makes about 18 popcorn balls.

(image courtesy of mahalo.com)

MF&L Staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

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