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Cocoa-Cayenne Popcorn Balls

Ingredients (11)

  • 9 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
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Nutritional Information
  • Calories328
  • Fat11.51g
  • Saturated fat5.69g
  • Trans fat0.31g
  • Carbs59.09g
  • Fiber2.76g
  • Sugar50.01g
  • Protein1.91g
  • Cholesterol20.35mg
  • Sodium261.86mg
  • Nutritional Analysis per serving (6 servings) Powered by

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Cocoa-Cayenne Popcorn Balls

A little hot, slightly citrusy, and nice and chocolaty, these popcorn balls have flavor that just won’t quit.

Special equipment: You’ll need a reliable candy/fat thermometer for this recipe.

Game plan: The popcorn balls will last up to 5 days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

This recipe was featured as part of our Popcorn Balls for the Holidays project.

Tips for Christmas

Instructions

  1. 1Coat a large heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray and place popcorn in the bowl.
  2. 2Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Place over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260°F on a candy/fat thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cocoa, orange zest, cayenne, and vanilla until melted and smooth.
  3. 3Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn. Stir continuously with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until popcorn is thoroughly coated and cool enough to handle, about 3 minutes.
  4. 4Using buttered or oiled hands, tightly press mixture (it may still be a bit warm) into 3-inch rounds. Place on waxed or parchment paper to cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.
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