Making popcorn balls is a Christmas tradition in my husband's family and so this molasses popcorn ball recipe has now become a way our family has been able to carry on that tradition without adding the more popular corn syrup to the traditional treat.
Here is what you need to make this recipe:
- 1 1/2 cups unpopped yellow popcorn (about 24 cups when it is popped)
- 2 cups peanuts (optional)
- 2 cups molasses
- 3 Tablespoons butter and extra to coat hands
If using peanuts, place them in a large oven-proof bowl and place in the oven on warm. If you skip this step you will not get popcorn balls, but rather candied nuts and plain popcorn as the nuts act like a heat sink and harden the molasses candy on contact.
Pop the popcorn and place the popped corn into a bowl in a warm oven (with the peanuts if you are using them). Again, don't skip this step because the bowl will act like a heat sink too.
Next, in a pan, warm the molasses and butter and heat the entire mixture until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.
Take the popcorn mixture out of the oven and pour the molasses mixture on top. Mix well to coat all the popcorn and evenly mix the ingredients.
Then with generously buttered hands, gently grab a handful of the mixture, press it hard together, and then let cool on a non-stick surface.