Get out your dental floss folks because we are making popcorn balls!
I had the semi-genius idea to make a popcorn ball Christmas tree while half asleep/half awake one lazy morning. It felt brilliant, like the kind of recipe where I needed to run to town immediately and gather all items necessary.
After growing up in the carnival and having an aunt that gave us popcorn balls for every occasion, they are a celebratory staple in my kitchen.
Do you remember me telling you about how it’s okay to make mistakes and try things out in the kitchen? Yeah, well this recipe is one of those times. Once the popcorn ball Christmas tree was assembled it looked like something a 3rd grader made. Kind of embarrassing actually. And as my friend and sous-chef for the project Marie so aptly stated, “We’re sober even.” Sigh……
As I gazed upon the popcorn monstrosity I thought “There is no way on this planet I will post a picture of something so ugly.” But then I thought, “Do it. I need to be true to the way I live, mistakes and all.” The idea looked so much more beautiful in my mind. I had visions of gold dusted and sugar pearl studded popcorn balls, a classy and elegant centerpiece for the most high fashion of Christmas parties. Alas it was an over sprinkled hot mess!
In the end I deconstructed the tree and passed out the popcorn ornaments to my friends and neighbors and they loved them! So even though it was an aesthetic flop it was a tasty and rewarding success.
Happy holidays to my family and friends at home and abroad. May your life be filled with love and forgiveness.
Popcorn Ball Christmas Tree
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
11/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup un-popped popcorn
1 ½ tablespoons virgin coconut oil
Colorful decorations such as: colored sugar crystal sprinkles, edible gold dust, sugar pearls, toasted coconut etc.
Yield 13-15 tennis ball sized balls
Add coconut oil to a large pot and heat over medium high heat, pop covered until all kernels are popped, add 1 tablespoon of salt and shake to combine. If you would like you can use microwave popcorn or an air popper according to its directions. I have neither luxury so old fashioned popping it is.
In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, water, 1 teaspoon salt and vinegar. Cook over medium heat to the hard ball stage 250 degrees F (120 degrees C)using a candy thermometer (good luck find one of those in Fiji). Or simmer uncovered for about 25-28 minutes until dark amber in color and thickened. Stir in the vanilla and slowly pour the hot mixture over the popped popcorn, stirring to mix well.
Oil hands lightly and shape into tennis ball sized balls. Mixture will be extremely hot so be careful. Place balls on a large plate or wax paper to cool.
Place your decorations in shallow dishes and roll balls into decoration. If you are using edible gold dust use a small, clean paint brush to paint each one or if using the sugar pearls you will need to place them one at a time. To make the tree look less busy leave some balls undecorated. Chill decorated popcorn balls in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before assembling the tree.
Arrange balls in a circle and then build your next layer on top and so forth until you have 1 at the top. As a suggestion you may build the tree on a cake stand to be used as an edible centerpiece(if it looks better than mine did!). Allow your guests to take one popcorn ball home or eat it at the party!