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Opening Day

Popcorn balls

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)
March 31, 2010

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Makes 12

Use plain, unflavored popcorn. Add the caramel mixture to the popcorn first, then the peanuts, so the nuts do not sink to the bottom of the bowl. You need a candy thermometer to make the caramel.

Vegetable oil (for the sheet and shaping)
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vinegar
3/4 cup water
Salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 cups popped corn (8 to 10 ounces popped weight)
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts

1. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes or until it reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.

3. Remove the mixture from the heat and add a pinch of salt and vanilla. Pour over the popcorn and add the peanuts. With a wooden spoon stir to coat evenly, working quickly because the caramel will begin to harden.

4. Lightly oil your hands. Shape the popcorn mixture into 12 equal-size balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place on the baking sheet. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

Keri Fisher