Every Christmas, I look forward to holiday baking. There were certain treats we were allowed to help make when we were young, and others where we were encouraged to stay out of the kitchen. This was one of the latter - with the hot caramel sauce, and the rapid pace you must work, my parents preferred we watch from afar. When I got to my teen years, I finally worked up the courage to help my mom (I was worried about burning my hands!)
These are the best popcorn balls! (Although, I may be biased, but many people have converted to this recipe after trying them). Because of the caramel coloring, they cannot be dyed different colors (which is the appeal of marshmallow based recipes). As my husband says, you can make these as "healthy" or "unhealthy" as you want based on the proportion of popcorn to caramel. I prefer the "unhealthy" ones with lots of caramel goo!
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
Cook ingredients to soft ball stage. Pour over popcorn. Mix into popcorn, using wooden spoon or firm silicone spatula.
Wet hands & form balls. Cool popcorn balls on cookie sheets.
Store either in tins (the big tins that popcorn comes in during the holidays) or put a trash bag (with a drawstring) over the cookie sheet the popcorn balls are on. (Of course, you could individually package them in bags if giving as gifts)
***How much popcorn to use?***
I don't have an exact measurement. We double the above recipe, and fill a large turkey roaster (base & the lid) heaped with popcorn. We've found that a 4 pound bag of popcorn makes about 3 double batches, so each batch (as listed above), is about about 2/3 of a pound of unpopped popcorn.
(And yes, we know that a 4 pound bag makes 3 double batches because that is often how much we'd make!)