Have a classic treat with these wonderful old fashion popcorn balls for Betty Crocker’s 1972 Cookbook. You can’t get more classic than this. Easy to follow step by step photo instructions.
We all have certain things associated with certain holidays. Well for me Halloween means a popcorn ball from Martha Cackler. I grew up in a town of 25 people so Halloween had 4 or 5 stops and that was it. Mrs. Cackler made the popcorn balls… I loved them so.
So I went in search of a classic popcorn ball recipe. But there appeared to be multiple variations and ratios. Very confusing. So off to the authority, Betty herself.
So what were the variations you may ask? Some used marshmallows… not classic to me. There were some variations in the syrup, but the biggest difference was in the amount of popcorn-related to the amount of syrup. Up to 100% variation. See my notes below for more.
Ok, maybe a four but the memories kick it up a notch.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes on Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls
It took me three trial runs to get this right. The first time I’m sure I misread the candy thermometer. The second, I added some Paula Deen into Betty. Not good. Way too much popcorn to syrup ratio. And I think it is the first Paula Deen recipe I found without butter… really. The third and successful run stuck very close to the book and I added a little vanilla.
These are “plain” popcorn balls. You can add about 1 cup of extras like nuts or candy. But please remember your audience may have allergies and do not hand out homemade or unsealed treats to strangers on Halloween.
This recipe requires a candy thermometer. Do not try it without one.
This is HOT so be Careful!!!!
You need to form the balls by hand while still hot. Please be very very careful and if you don’t feel safe, don’t do it.
You are responsible for not getting burnt here, and I can’t help you. Do not let children do this.
Other Sweet Treat Recipes You May Enjoy
Start by popping the corn.
Place 1/4 cup oil over medium-high heat with three kernels of corn. As soon as the corn pops, remove from heat, add 1/2 cup of unpopped corn and cover with lid. Allow to set for 20-30 seconds for the kernels to come up close to popping temperature. Place back over medium-high heat and pop the corn shaking the pan occasionally.
You need 8 cups of popped corn. Spend little time getting rid of un-popped kernels. The easiest way is shaking the container and moving the top layer to another pan.
Prep a large pan and a wooden spoon or rubber spatula with PAM and transfer popcorn to the pan. This is the point to add nuts or candy if desired. About 1 cup and mix in well.
In a non-stick pan add 3/4 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 1/2 cup light Karo corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, one teaspoon white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Place over medium-high heat with a candy thermometer and cook to 260 degrees stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and place back over low heat until butter melted.
Now for the hot part. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the popcorn while mixing with the PAM coated spoon.
Continue to stir for a few minutes until cooled some. Spray your hands with PAM. Be VERY CAREFUL since you can get burnt so test very carefully before proceeding and only proceed if you feel it is safe. I kept the cold water running in the sink but didn’t need it.
Form the popcorn into balls of about 1 cup each and squeeze into a tight ball. Place on wax paper or cooking mat to finish cooling. You can wrap with plastic wrap, and they should keep 4-5 days.
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