Coal Popcorn Balls

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Coal Popcorn Balls… putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

6th Annual I Heart Naptime Crazy Christmas Event

Hi, guys! I am Amy from My 3 Monsters and I am excited to be guest posting here today for the Crazy Christmas event.  I’m sharing my twist on one of our classic family recipes that would make a super fun treat for your friends and neighbors!

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Every year for Christmas, my husband’s family makes licorice caramels.  I had never heard of them before, have y‘all?  Licorice caramel is soft, buttery, homemade caramel with a subtle anise, or black licorice, flavor.  It is BLACK and gooey and delicious.  I don’t even like black licorice AT ALL, but I LOVE licorice caramel, so don’t knock it til you try it!  I got to thinking, if you poured the hot caramel over popcorn and made popcorn balls, they would look an awful lot like lumps of coal.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

When our kids were little, I used to tease them that they would get nothing but coal in their stockings if they were naughty.  Of course, I was never going to make good on that threat, but it sure went a long way in getting them to obey in December!  I thought it would be fun to make Licorice Caramel “Coal” Popcorn Balls with humorous tags for our friends and neighbors this year.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

I designed these tags so that, at first glance, they seem a little bit snarky, but if you look closely you’ll get a fun holiday message.  You can either package the popcorn balls individually, with cute striped straws for sticks and put a tag on each one, or you could put several of them in a cute basket or container with a tag on it.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

To make the Coal Licorice Caramel

Combine butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, light corn syrup, and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.  Bring it to a boil, stirring frequently.  Once it starts to boil, stir constantly and keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  Boil until the caramel reaches the firm soft ball stage.  I don’t own a candy thermometer because I prefer using the cold water candy test — you will know your caramel is done when a firm, soft pliable ball forms after you drop a small amount of the boiling liquid into cold water.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Remove the caramel from the heat and add anise extract and black food coloring, stirring until thoroughly mixed.  {If you’re really averse to the flavor of black licorice, you can simply omit the anise extract and just add the black food coloring!}   Pour over popcorn and stir until it is all evenly coated.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Using buttered hands, form the popcorn into small balls.  Be careful because the caramel will still be pretty warm.  If desired, add sticks to your popcorn balls while they are still warm.  Set popcorn balls on parchment paper and allow to set up for several hours or over night.  Package in individual cellophane bags and tie up with coordinating ribbon.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Licorice Caramel Coal Popcorn Balls Printable Recipe!

Licorice Caramel Coal Popcorn Balls

Yield: 24 popcorn balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black paste food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract {optional}
  • 3 bags microwave popcorn -- approx. 24 cups popped

Directions:

Bring butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt to boil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently to avoid burning.

Boil caramel until it reaches firm soft ball stage.  When a small amount of hot liquid dropped in cold water turns into a firm, soft pliable ball, your caramel is done.

Remove caramel from heat and add black paste food coloring and anise extract {if desired}.  Stir until thoroughly mixed in.

Pour warm caramel over popped popcorn and stir until evenly coated.  

Using buttered hands, form popcorn into small balls -- approx. 1 C. each.  Be careful, the caramel will still be pretty warm.  Allow to cool and set up for several hours or over night.

Coal Popcorn Balls... putting a twist on the ever-favorite popcorn balls by creating a licorice caramel to make these amazing Coal Popcorn Balls. Free printable, perfect for gifting, included!

Download the printable tags here for your personal use

Be good, guys! Santa is watching and you wouldn’t want to get coal in your stocking this year,or maybe you would…

Have a very merry Christmas, friends!

Thank you, Amy!

If you love this amazing Christmas treat, you’ll enjoy these too!

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Comments

  1. Cocoweb posted on December 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm (#
    1
    )

    Cool recipe, thanks for sharing!