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Oct 21, 2014

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

I've been wanting to make homemade popcorn balls for a while now, but I debated over what binder to use, marshmallows or syrup. The marshmallow kind are more chewy, like rice crispy treats, while the kind made with syrup are more crunchy. Since the syrup kind is more traditional and what I remember eating as a kid, I ended up going that way. The addition of peanut butter to the syrup in this recipe produces a chewier texture and prevents the finished popcorn balls from getting rock hard, which the kind made with syrup have a tendency to do. With peanuts, peanut butter, and Reece's Pieces, these are definitely for peanut lovers.

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls
Makes 14-18 servings

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts
1 cup Reese's pieces
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (should produce about 20 cups popped popcorn)


Line a baking sheet or work surface with waxed paper. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

Prep your popcorn. I used an air popper to make mine. but you can also make it on the stove top, in the microwave, or just use pre-made. Whichever way you go, make sure to remove any unpopped kernels and season popcorn with salt if it isn’t already (½ teaspoon of popcorn salt should do it). Place popped popcorn in a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray and stir in the nuts.

Stir sugar, corn syrup, butter and peanut butter together in a large saucepan. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. If you have a candy thermometer, you want to get to the "soft ball" stage; if you do not, just boil for about 10 minutes.

Pour sugar mixture over popcorn and nuts and stir until well coated. Be sure to scrape any clumps of the sugar mixture off the bottom.

Let mixture cool for a few minutes before stirring in the Reece's Pieces.

Wait a few more minutes until popcorn is cool enough to handle, then using a large ice cream disher, scoop the popcorn mixture into 3-inch rounds, smoothing with buttered hands as needed without packing too tightly. Cool completely on lined sheet.

Wrap individual popcorn balls in plastic wrap or put them in cupcake liners and place an airtight container. Store up to 4 days.

Just beware if you have any dogs that making these qualifies as dog torture; peanut butter and popcorn are two of my dog's favorite people foods. Maybe set aside a small ball of popcorn and peanut butter just for your furry friends.

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