As amazing as regular popcorn is, it’s good to switch things up from time to time. We won’t be totally omitting popcorn, though. We’re not monsters! It can be shaped and turned into all sorts of things, including balls! Have you ever wanted to straight up bite into a ball of popcorn as if you were eating an apple? Well, if your answer is yes, you’re in luck! Because that is definitely what we’ll be doing today. Don’t worry, it sounds like it’s a bit of a hard and gimmicky recipe, but it’s really not. It’s very easy to make and doesn’t take up much time at all.
It’s also scrumptious and satisfyingly toothsome! Some may think popcorn balls are dense and chewy – and they can be if done wrong – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If done right, they have the perfect texture; they’re airy and soft but they still have a bite and chewiness to them. When you add other ingredients such as maple-caramel bacon, it becomes the snack that’ll rule them all. So be careful because they’re really addictively tasty and they’ll keep rollin’ down! But before we get to making the popcorn balls, what do we need first? Yes, popcorn! So let’s get poppin’!
Popping the Popcorn
Without the popcorn, it’ll just be maple-caramel bacon, isn’t it? Not that it’s bad or anything but this’ll be even better. You can use store bought bags of popcorn or microwave popcorn for some extra pizazz, or you can even use up leftover popcorn for extra convenience. But our stovetop method isn’t really hard at all and it’s probably the hardest step in this recipe, which isn’t even hard. If you can, we suggest popping the popcorn yourself because everything is better with freshly popped, warm, and crunchy popcorn! If you agree with us and can’t wait to bite into one of these maple-caramel bacon popcorn balls, here’s our stovetop popcorn method:
What You’ll Need
- 2 tbsp corn kernels – yields approx. 4 cups of popped popcorn
- 1 tbsp coconut or neutral oil – you can also use the rendered bacon fat for an even more bacony goodness!
- Small pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
- Large pot with a tight fitting lid
- Large bowl
- Put the pot over medium heat and add the oil to heat it up
- After a couple of minutes, toss in a few corn kernels and wait for them to pop
- Add the rest of the corn kernels when they start popping, give them a quick stir, and cover the lid
- When the popping sound starts to subside, turn off the heat and dump the popped popcorn to a large bowl
- Sprinkle over a small pinch of salt while they’re still hot and let them cool to room temperature
- They’re ready to be turned into popcorn balls!
How to Make Maple-Caramel Bacon Popcorn Balls
Now comes the good part because you’ll be munching on some amazing maple-caramel bacon popcorn balls before you can even say maple-caramel bacon popcorn balls. They’re great as a movie snack, a party snack or as a snack in general, and they also make for the best edible gift if you have foodie friends, which you probably do since you’re reading this. It’ll save you quite a bit of time and money in holidays while also making your foodie friends very happy. They’re very customizable, too. You can add different ingredients you like such as different types of nuts or meats, or you can leave certain ingredients out if you don’t like them or if you have allergies. Here’s how to make this wonderful snack:
- 4 cups popped popcorn – yields 5 to 7 popcorn balls depending on their size
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup bacon bits
- ¾ tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅛ heavy cream, at room temperature
- Small pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
- Cook the bacon in the oven or in a pan for 5 to 7 minutes or until they’re golden brown, crispy, and the fat rendered out
- Then let the bacon cool to room temperature – if you can resist the urge to devour it – and cut them into bite sized bits
- Combine the popped popcorn and bacon bits in a large bowl and set aside
- In a heavy-bottom saucepan, add the maple syrup and let it boil for a few minutes over medium heat, or more specifically, until it reaches 230°F (110°C) if you have a candy thermometer – make sure to use a saucepan with tall edges because the maple syrup will foam up while boiling
- Turn off the heat and add the butter, heavy cream, salt, and whisk thoroughly until it becomes a homogenous, smooth, and glossy mixture
- Before the maple-caramel sauce cools down, lightly grease a spatula or spoon and drizzle the sauce over the popcorn bacon mixture while stirring constantly to coat everything evenly with the sauce
- Lightly grease your hands and form them into balls once the maple-caramel sauce is cool enough to handle but haven’t hardened yet – do NOT touch the caramel sauce while it’s still very hot like molten lava, hot sugar is even worse than hot water
- Put the balls on a tray to let them cool down to room temperature