Caramel Popcorn Balls (Two Recipes)

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I never thought I say I’d like a popcorn ball recipe that was different from the one I already had/liked, but… I’m saying it now!  I’ll include my ‘other (first) favorite’ recipe at the bottom of this posting.
Leading up to my switcheroo on recipes, why wouldn’t a ‘marked up’ recipe in an old recipe book get my attention!?!?  Check this out…
A bit about how this happened:  Just today, my sister, Nadine, gave me some old cookbooks and I’ve been having a good time looking through them.  Here is a photo of this particular recipe book’s cover:
It’s dated 1954 (I was just a kid back then!) and is from when these church members were meeting in the beautiful white country church that still stands on Highway 29–now, a Baptist Church.  Yes, this one…
Getting back to the easy recipe on page 35, here goes…
INGREDIENTS:
(Below, I’ve doubled the recipe that’s in the book.)

Pop enough popcorn to have 2 gallons of popped corn set aside.  Also have handy, a large bowl or kettle.  (From when we had our own ‘fresh cow milk’, I have gallon-sized Rubbermaid containers that I use for measuring the popped corn.)  P.S.  We very much MISS having our own cows’ good RAW MILK to drink!)

More INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 cups light brown sugar, packed
32 large marshmallows (I weighed the Jet Puffed kind I used, and this amount comes so close to being 4 oz.– so,…that much in mini-marshmallows should work just fine.)
DIRECTIONS:
In a medium/large kettle, combine first the butter and brown sugar– constantly stir this over moderately low heat with a spatula until you can feel the ‘grainy’ of the sugar pretty much gone.  Dump the marshmallows in and continue stirring over heat until marshmallows are melted.
    As soon as the marshmallows are totally melted and completely blended in, it is READY! 
 To make it easier to coat all the corn, I dump only one gallon popped corn in the big kettle, pour mixture over, dump the other gallon of popped corn on top of that, and quickly coat top of all with remaining mixture.  Immediately, gently stir until all is coated. 
 Now, shape into balls with buttered hands.  And,… as if one wouldn’t know, huh,….BE CAREFUL because the mixture will still be hot. 
These ten balls are a large 4″ across.  I know that’s a LARGE ball, but……. it certainly isn’t difficult to ‘hack one in half’ and share it.
A popcorn ball recipe could hardly be any simpler.  Here they are, wrapped and……………… so good.
Over a year ago, I bought ‘online’ popcorn sold through the Boy Scouts to help grandson Sam with his fundraiser.  Their popcorn is quite expensive, but it is SO good– the ‘gourmet’ corn pops almost twice as large and fluffy as some other kinds and there are so few ‘old maids’ after popping.  I LIKE!!!
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BELOW is the recipe for my former ‘favorite’ popcorn ball– this recipe makes a lot, too, but it’s more time consuming and it does have more of butter/sugar– but, then, there are the marshmallows in the top recipe.  Which is more ‘damaging’?   Probably both… but, is one less than the other?  Decide for yourself.
First, pop enough corn so that you have 32 cups (2-gallons) of popped corn set aside and ‘waiting’ in a very large bowl/kettle.

INGREDIENTS to make the caramel coating:

1 and ½ cups granulated sugar

1 and ½ cups brown sugar (packed)
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
2 teaspoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 and ½ cups butter 
DIRECTIONS for the cooking part:
Combine sugars, corn syrup, water, vinegar and salt in 4-quart saucepan.  Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring.  Cook, stirring constantly, until temp. reaches 260-degrees on a candy thermometer (or, until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball). 
Remove from heat, add all of the butter and stir until it is melted and totally blended in. 
 Pour syrup in thin stream over corn in large bowl, stirring gently until all corn is well coated.  This is where a helper comes in handy–someone to stir while you pour, or the other way around.   Cool slightly.
Be careful as this is still a very HOT mixture and can (will!) burn your hands.  Make sure no young children are within reaching distance.  Butter hands, shape mixture into balls and place on waxed paper. 

Source Recipe: http://milkmaidrecipebox.blogspot.com

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