This year, treat the neighborhood ghosts and goblins and pirates and princesses to some uncommon treats, Caramel Popcorn Balls, courtesy of The Old Farmer's Almanac Monthly Digital Magazine. Later, when these bag-bearing visitors get home and empty their sacks, your handouts will stand out as the most memorable loot.
This old-time confection dates back to the mid-1800s. The trick is to watch the caramel carefully: It can go from golden brown to nearly black in a matter of just a few seconds.
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon white or cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup salted butter, plus more for bowl and hands
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 cups popped popcorn
Grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray.
In a medium heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir in the butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and boil gently for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light golden brown, stirring often, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Put the popcorn into a large bowl. Pour the syrup mixture over the popcorn and stir with a spatula until the popcorn is evenly coated. As soon as the mixture is cool enough to handle, butter your hands and shape the popcorn into 2- to 3-inch balls. When the balls are cool, wrap them in plastic or waxed paper. Makes 12 to 14 balls.
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