Popcorn balls are one of those things that never EVER cross my mind to make or even eat. I have no idea why. Even though I’m not a huge fan of eating fistfulls of popcorn, I absolutely love popcorn when it is slathered in buttery flavored sugar and shaped into a sphere! I also love that they are sweet and salty and will make you totally sick if you eat too many. :)
Plus, these things are friggin cute. Seriously… they are so easy, but you can make them look like you spent hours making them- and because of this, they make the perfect “bring along to someone else’s party” food.
Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Balls ~ Vegan and Gluten Free
makes about five 4″ round balls
Make sure your popcorn is popped and set aside, ready to go in a large bowl. Also, you will definitely need a candy thermometer and a wooden spoon.
In heavy saucepan, at least 8″ deep, combine sugar, corn syrup, margarine, and apple cider. Over medium heat, bring mixture to boil. Continue to cook over medium heat and stir regularly with wooden spoon until candy thermometer reads 300 °F (or hard crack stage). This takes a while. Patience totally pays off with these.
The thing you most definitely do NOT want to do is get rushed and pull the candy from the stove before it reaches hard crack stage. Your popcorn balls will not be crispy and crunchy- but instead horribly sticky balls with enough tenacity to rip a crown from your tooth.
Remove mixture from heat and quickly stir in vanilla extract and vinegar. Pour HOT candy mixture over popcorn and stir until evenly coated. Let cool for about 5-7 minutes. Carefully handle the popcorn to make sure you don’t burn your hands. Shape them into even balls and set on wire rack to cool completely.
Using double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate until smooth. Place in piping bag with small tip and decorate with chocolate. While chocolate is melted you can also adorn them with sprinkles.
Store in fridge or cool place where chocolate will not melt.