Popcorn balls make a hot, messy treat for adults and kids


Popcorn balls make a hot, messy treat for adults and kids

I had big plans to make popcorn balls with my kids, remembering these funny treats from childhood.

I recall they were served at way too many parties, but were pretty tasty to a kid. And fun to eat.

By the way, we are still gorging ourselves on tomatoes. All kinds, at all meals, there is a plethora of these little gems. I think I picked the last of them the other day, about 15 pounds. A freeze has got to be any night now, sure to finalize what turned out to be a decent tomato year for me.

So, even though our garden is still producing, I thought doing something unlike me, not healthy and kind of silly would be good.

I bought some corn syrup, something I don’t think I have ever purchased before, and Corn Pops, a cereal that was new to my kids, too. The rest of the ingredients were on my shelf.

Emma, 11, popped the corn in our Whirly Popper. This is a fabulously simple contraption that someone gave me as a present one year and we use it all the time.

Molly, 9, started measuring out all the sweet stuff into a large pot. Once Clay, 7, saw what was going in, he quickly pulled up a stepstool to assist in this ultra-sweet concoction.

I took over cooking the syrup because it has to reach a very hot temperature and kids just should not be around it.

Emma combined the popcorn and cereal, then once the candy mixture was ready, I poured it over the dry ingredients and started mixing quickly, folding the cereal and syrup together to get it well coated. It was very, very hot.

Every tool needs to be coated with some oil, so the syrup doesn’t stick to it, causing a rather large mess. I poured the mass onto a greased cookie sheet, then quickly started forming balls and placing them on another sheet to cool.

Here is where I thought the kids could help, and they would have loved it, but the mixture was still too hot for them to handle. Let it cool completely before eating or the candy will harden on your teeth, and that is not so great.

The popcorn balls were a big hit. I even made an adult batch with chile peppers in it. I know what I will be giving teachers for Christmas presents this year.

Even though the kids cannot do as much as they might like with this project, it is still fun to watch, eat and share.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

Popcorn Balls

Servings: Makes 3 dozen balls

Note: A candy thermometer is needed for this recipe.


20 cups popped corn (about ¾ cup popping corn)

4 cups Corn Pops cereal

3 cups sugar

1½ cups corn syrup

1 stick butter

½ cup water

1½ teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon salt


In a large, lightly oiled bowl, toss the cooked popcorn and cereal. Set aside.

Lightly oil a sheet pan and set it aside, too.

In a large pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, water and vanilla. Cook over high heat until mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300 F).

Remove from heat, stir in salt, then pour over dry ingredients, mixing quickly and carefully. Pour mixture onto the oiled sheet pan.

Oil your hands a little and quickly mold the mixture into balls about 2 inches wide. Let cool completely.

Balls can be stored in airtight container for several days.

Add peanuts or spices to your popcorn balls, if you like.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine.

Popcorn balls make a hot, messy treat for adults and kids

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