Now that the bitterness of winter has taken hold, most of us will be spending more and more time inside until winter releases its chilling grip. Whether it’s movie night, game day or family time, caramel popcorn is an easy-to make, fun-to-eat snack that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Now that the bitterness of winter has taken hold, most of us will be spending more and more time inside until winter releases its chilling grip. Whether it’s movie night, game day or family time, caramel popcorn is an easy-to make, fun-to-eat snack that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Kids can certainly lend a hand in making caramel popcorn or caramel popcorn balls, even if it’s just making the popcorn or measuring ingredients. If kids are helping form the popcorn balls, be sure to test the temperature of the mixture before they take hold of it.

You will definitely appreciate the flavor of the fresh-popped popcorn compared to store brands. Also, if you wind up with extra popcorn you are not going to use, consider feeding it to the birds.
The following recipes are adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. Customize your caramel popcorn by using pecans, almonds or other nuts as desired.

Caramel Popcorn

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecan halves (optional)
1/2 cup blanched almonds (optional)
8 cups of popcorn

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with butter cooking spray and set aside.

In large bowl, mix nuts and popcorn and set aside.

In a large pan, heat brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt on medium heat until simmering, stirring constantly.

Add the popcorn mixture, stirring constantly until popcorn is thoroughly coated. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

Spread mixture onto cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to loosen the mixture from the cookie sheet. Let cool for an hour at room temperature.

Store uncovered.

Caramel Popcorn Balls

In a large pan, heat brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt on medium heat until simmering, stirring constantly. Add the popcorn mixture, stirring constantly until popcorn is thoroughly coated. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Dip your hands into cold water, then shape the mixture into 2-inch balls (if the mixture is too hot to handle, let cool a little longer). Place walls on wax or parchment paper to cool completely, then wrap individually in plastic wrap or plastic bags and tie.

The Journal-Standard