Maple-Walnut Popcorn Balls
Makes about 20 popcorn balls, which should be eaten whole and leave your face feeling sticky.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B has a robust, more maple-y flavor)
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
10 cups popped corn (1 plain microwave bag or 1/4 cup kernels)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
An oiled bowl and two oiled, heatproof spatulas or spoons
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sugars, honey, and corn syrup and cook to 300°F over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Add the baking soda and stir well to incorporate; the mixture will increase in volume.
Spread the popped corn out on a large sheet tray and discard any unpopped kernels. Transfer the popcorn to the oiled bowl. Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn, then sprinkle the nuts; use 2 heatproof spatulas and toss together until corn is evenly coated.
When the caramel has cooled and is cool enough to handle but not brittle, after 2-3 minutes, toss and shape into 2” balls with lightly oiled hands. Set on a rack to cool.
Popcorn balls are best within a few days of making and keep for up to a week.
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