By Carolyn Kolstoe
Grand Forks, North Dakota
As a child, I thought all popcorn balls were chocolate. My mother made them for winter holidays and of course, we all had to help form them, which was great fun. I have never come across another recipe for chocolate popcorn balls, and whenever I share them with others, they are as excited about them as we have been. When one of our boys was in grade school, his friend brought popcorn balls to treat the class for his birthday. When my son saw them later, he was shocked – they were not chocolate! Aren’t all popcorn balls chocolate?
My recipe is not as “technical” as it should be, as I have never used a candy thermometer. I go by feel, which is a learned skill.
Pop corn in an air popper (no oil is used so the popcorn will stick together) so that it will fill a regular-sized roaster (like the blue ones). Remove half the popcorn for the first batch. In a heavy kettle, combine:
11/3 cups water
11/3 cups white syrup
3 cups sugar
Boil this mixture to a soft ball stage (this can be tested in ice water)
1 stick margarine
Continue boiling to a soft crack stage (I drop a ball into ice water, then stand it on the counter. If it holds its shape, but then starts to melt down, it is usually ready).
Remove from heat and add:
4 ounces of baking chocolate
1 large tablespoon of salt
Pour half of this mixture in the half-filled roaster and stir until all popcorn has chocolate on it. Butter your hands well, and make balls by pressing the chocolate popcorn into balls. When the roaster is empty, use the other half of the popcorn and the other half of the syrup and repeat. This will usually make between 25-30 popcorn balls, depending on the size. A tennis ball size is a good choice.