Preheat oven to 250°F. Grease large shallow roasting pan. Add popcorn.
Keep warm in oven while making caramel mixture.
Place sugar, water and corn syrup in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir over
low heat until sugar has dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Carefully
clip candy thermometer to side of pan (do not let bulb touch bottom of
pan). Cook over low heat, without stirring, about 10 minutes or until
thermometer registers 280°F. Occasionally wash down any sugar crystals
that form on side of the pan using pastry brush dipped in warm water.
Immediately remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla until smooth.
Pour hot syrup mixture slowly over warm popcorn, turning to coat kernels
evenly. Set aside until cool enough to handle but warm enough to shape.
Butter hands. Working quickly, lightly press warm mixture into 2-inch
balls. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.
Tips: If making Popcorn Crunchies to eat, insert lollipop sticks while still
warm; set aside to cool completely. Cover with decorative plastic wrap.
If making Popcorn Crunchies for tree ornaments, cool balls completely and
wrap each ball with enough decorative plastic wrap to pull wrap together
at top. Secure with a ribbon which can be formed into a bow or a loop for
Date: July 21, 2002