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Published: Saturday, 10/20/2001

Popcorn Balls

2 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Keep popped popcorn warm in 200-degree oven while preparing syrup. In 2-quart saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 270 degrees on a candy thermometer or until a small amount of syrup dropped into very cold water separates into threads, which are hard but not brittle.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla; stir just enough to mix through hot syrup. Slowly pour over popcorn, stirring to coat every kernel. Cool just enough to handle. You want to butter your hands and shape into balls. Cool on buttered foil or wax paper. Wrap on plastic wrap; tie with ribbon.

Yield: 12 medium-sized popcorn balls

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