Fall means hay rides, fuzzy sweaters, mugs of warm drinks and pumpkin carving, but one must-have that can get overlooked is the classic popcorn ball. And, really, that's too bad: no festivity is complete without offering up this simple treat that's beloved by kids and adults alike. Take all of 30 minutes to recreate this recipe — the delectable caramel coating is nothing but a few ingredients over a flame — and then serve up the salty-sweet dessert in miniature balls. You'll have an addictive pop-in-your-mouth confection that will surely become an autumn mainstay.
Make Caramel Popcorn
First, spread the popcorn out evenly on a baking sheet.
Add Peanuts to the Bowl
Sprinkle the peanuts over the top of the popcorn.
Make the Caramel Coating
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Then, pour in the brown sugar and stir until it's incorporated. Next, raise the heat and bring the sugar and butter to a boil. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Let the mixture boil lightly for 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove it from the heat. Carefully pour the caramel coating over the top of the popcorn and peanuts. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gently stir the popcorn on the sheet pan to get all of it coated evenly.
Make the Popcorn Balls
Rub your hands with butter (to prevent sticking) and form a small handful of the caramel corn into a ball. You may need to give it a good squeeze to ensure the popcorn ball holds its shape. Place the popcorn balls on a baking sheet. The recipe makes approximately 30 mini popcorn balls. Store them in an airtight container until ready to serve.
April Anderson is the creator of Girl Gone Gourmet, a food and recipe site for people who love to cook delicious dishes using simple and accessible ingredients. She loves comfort food, wine, travel, her 70-pound golden retriever puppy, and dreaming up new recipes in her kitchen in North Carolina.