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How to Make Popcorn Balls

"Pop(corn) Art," September/October 2011

Enjoy this healthy recipe for popcorn balls with mix-and-match flavors.

Whether you’re having a few old friends over to watch football or entertaining a three-foot-tall ghost on Halloween, give them something good to eat. Ditch the Milk Duds and whip up a platter of delectable, wholesome popcorn balls. With a bevy of interesting add-ins—from dried tart cherries to crystallized ginger—your treats will have no trouble playing dress-up!

EatingWell Popcorn Balls

MAKES: 12 (2-inch) balls
ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes | TOTAL: 20 minutes

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Fill a bowl with ice water. Put 6 heaping cups popped corn in a large bowl.

2. Cook the STICKY MIXTURE of your choice (see below).

3. Immediately stir the mixture into the popcorn until well coated. Gently stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped ADD-INS, if using (see below).

4. Dip both hands in the ice water. Quickly and firmly press the popcorn mixture into 2-inch balls. Roll in or sprinkle with 1/4 cup ROLL-INS, if using (see below), while still a little damp and sticky. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

5. To store, individually wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

STICKY MIXTURES
Go "all-natural" or keep it classic:

Agave-Peanut Butter:

Combine 1/4 cup each agave nectar (or honey) and room-temperature creamy natural peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble, cook, stirring constantly, for 15 seconds more. Proceed with Step 3 (above).

Caramel:

Combine 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup reduced-calorie light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the syrup starts to bubble, cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is melted and the mixture darkens, about 2 minutes. Proceed with Step 3 (above).

Stud with ADD-INS:
Dried Fruit
Nuts
Chocolate
Crystallized ginger
Pretzels, regular or chocolate-covered

Coat with ROLL-INS:
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Finely chopped nuts
Toasted sesame seeds
Finely ground granola
Sprinkles



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