As a Good Cook Kitchen Expert I received Good Cook products to facilitate our delicious Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls recipe. No other compensation was received All opinions are my own.
Other than all the cold weather, I absolutely love Autumn! It is the time of harvesting great food and enjoying amazing flavors! I don’t know why we don’t enjoy popcorn balls more often, but it seems that Autumn is the time that we really start to see popcorn balls show up in the stores. And then that makes me want popcorn balls, so I run home and make popcorn balls. Does that ever happen to you?
Well this last week we had a craving for some delicious autumn themed popcorn balls. I took a few different recipes from a family cookbook. You know those fun cookbooks where everyone shares their favorite recipes and then you bind them and share them with the family? We have a few of those. So honestly I don’t know where the recipes originate.
They had quite a few different recipes for popcorn balls. I really didn’t know which one would be best. So I read through the basic ingredients and mixed and matched about 4 different recipes to create my own. A special thanks goes out to my friend Chris from The Cooking Dish for answering a lot of my questions about cooking sugar techniques and blending ingredients. He was a great help with my creation of the recipe.
The result? One of the most amazing tasting Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls recipe I’ve ever tasted. I seriously could not stop snitching the popcorn balls! And the kids were just as bad. A recipe that good just has to be shared!
Caramel Apple Popcorn balls creation
First step is to always gather your ingredients and tools. Then start cooking! I’ve added an easy printable recipe at the bottom to make the creation super easy for you. One of the most important steps is to make sure you pop some Jolly Time popcorn in the microwave really quick to pacify the kids! The last thing you want is the kids sneaking in and eating your popcorn for the popcorn balls! So I popped some up and sent the kids to watch a movie so they wouldn’t eat what I needed for the popcorn balls. The first step is to get the apple syrup boiled down. This is super easy to do. It just takes a lot of time. But it is crucial if you want that amazing caramel apple flavoring. Without this step, the Caramel Apple popcorn balls just aren’t the same. You can also use a candy apple extract. But again. We prefer homemade. And the flavor is much more real.
Take your apple cider and place it in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until the cider is reduced to 1/2 cup. This takes ~ 40 minutes. But you will want to check after 30 minutes. Each time you are checking the apple syrup, be sure to measure with a glass measuring cup. You want to make sure it is boiled down enough so that you get the best flavor.
When it is boiled down enough it will be a little syrupy. That is alright. Like I said, this is the part that takes the longest. Once you have this step complete the rest of the recipe is a breeze!
When your apple sauce is almost ready you can begin popping your popcorn. I popped my popcorn into the 7 qt plastic party bowl and then transferred the popcorn to the stainless steal bowl after to ensure I had removed all the kernels. The last thing you want is to bite into a popcorn ball and hit a kernel. When the Apple syrup is ready, add in the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Make sure you use a good spatula to get all the goodness from the measuring cups. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. You don’t want to take your temperature past medium to begin with, as it’d most likely crystallize the bottom layer(s) of sugar while leaving the top layers unmelted.
Once it is boiling you can reduce the temperature slightly and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes without removing the lid. After 3 minutes remove the lid. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and check the temperature. Continue to cook until you reach a soft ball stage (236F to 238F).
I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have a candy thermometer! I used to always have to do this the old fashioned way by dropping some of the mixture into ice water to see the stage. It’s not always fool proof. I highly recommend getting a candy thermometer if you don’t have one. It makes this process a lot easier! Once the soft ball stage is reached, add in the cream of tartar and vanilla. Beware that the vanilla mixing with the cream of tartar in the caramel will bubble a bit. So watch out so you don’t get burned. Once it is all mixed then pour it over your popcorn. Mix well, ensuring you get all the caramel that will collect at the bottom of your bowl. Then mold.
Popcorn balls tip:
Let the caramel apple popcorn cool a bit before forming into a popcorn ball. When it is still hot it will form well, but won’t stay in the shape once you place it on the wax paper. After cooling for about 5-10 minutes, the popcorn will hold it’s formed shape much better. Use the easy Popcorn baller from Good Cook to form the perfect popcorn balls without getting your hands covered in caramel. Then place on a wax paper. For fun add in a candy stick for easy handling while you eat it. And for even more fun add in a Apple Sour Punch bites as the “leaf” of the apple. Now you are ready to dig in! But beware. Once you take a bite you won’t be able to stop! It is that good! If you want to dress them up even more perfect for handing out to friends, neighbors or sharing with kids; use the adorable Ghost story treat bags. Perfect decoration for Halloween! You can find all the tools you need to create these delicious Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls from Good Cook!
- 7 qt Plastic party bowl
- Classic “Non-stick” 2 qt sauce pan
- Stainless steel rubber base mixing bowl 5 qt
- Spatula w/ clear handle
- Candy Thermometer
- Popcorn Ballers
- Ghost story Treat bags
Get 25% off your own Popcorn Baller Use CODE: POPCORN Starting October 7th, they will host the most amazing Good Cook 7-day popcorn giveaway. (More details to come soon) Be sure to stay connect with Good Cook on Facebook | Twitter | Website
Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls Recipe
Yield 10 large popcorn balls
A delicious and rich in flavor Caramel Apple popcorn balls recipe made from scratch.
- 2/3 cup unpopped popcorn
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup sweetened condenced milk
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup juice syrup ( 4 cups apple cider reduced to 1/2 cup)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- Cook 4 cups apple cider to a boil
- Reduce and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.
- Juice will be a little syrupy
- Air pop the popcorn kernels. Then sift or transfer bowls ensuring all kernels are removed.
- Set aside and start making the caramel.
- Combine Juice, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and salt in 4 qt sauce pan
- Bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to below medium
- Tightly cover with lid and cook for 3 minutes
- Remove lid carefully and clip on candy thermometer
- Continue to cook until soft ball stage (approximately 236F)
- Remove from heat
- Add in vanilla and cream of tartar
- Mix well
- Drizzle over popped popcorn.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes
- Form into popcorn balls and decorate.