Making popcorn balls as a family is a tradition we TRY to keep each December.
While the syrup reaches "soft ball" stage, we pop a huge bowl of popcorn with our ancient air popper. It really is a group effort when it's time to pour the hot syrup over the popcorn and stir to coat each piece. Many hands dig in to form the balls. (Cold wet hands work best.)
Of course, the best part of the process is the eating. They are delicious!
******************My dad is the one who started this tradition. When he was a boy his family would make popcorn balls, wrap them in red or green cellophane and hang them on their Christmas tree. When friends or neighbors stopped by during the Holidays, they each would receive one of the homemade treats to enjoy.
We miss my dad very very much, but luckily, my kids have sweet memories of making popcorn balls with their grandpa.
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. white corn syrup
2/3 c. water
1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or maple flavoring (We actually used both.)
Cook all ingredients except the flavorings until the mixture forms a soft ball in cold water. Add vanilla and/or maple and pour over popcorn. (If you only use one type of flavoring, make it maple.)