These Popcorn Balls Are a Delicious (and Easy) Treat to Send Home with Your Thanksgiving Dinner Guests
If everything goes according to plan at Thanksgiving dinner, your guests will leave feeling fully satisfied—but that doesn't mean you shouldn't send 'em home with a courtesy road snack (the holiday is synonymous with gluttony, after all). These genius candy-coated "Holiday Popcorn Balls" by chef Charlie Marshall of rustic-chic farm-to-table restaurant The Marshal in N.Y.C. combine hazelnuts and root beer to create the ultimate after-dessert dessert that'll quell any lingering late-night sugar cravings. Plus, they won't detract from the laborious cooking necessary to prep for the main event: The clusters can be stored in a closed container for up to one week in advance of being served. "You can make them, forget about them, and whip them out later," Marshall says. Here's to glorious make-ahead cooking.
Holiday Popcorn Balls
15 cups popped popcorn
1 cup salted hazelnuts, coarsely crushed
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sorghum syrup (or light corn syrup)
1/4 cup salted butter
2 bottles of root beer (Marshall likes Not Your Father's Root Beer)
1/2 tsp salt
1. Combine the popped popcorn and the crushed hazelnuts in a large bowl.
2. Pour the contents of the bottles of root beer into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer until reduced to 2 cups, which should take about 10-15 minutes.
3. Next, butter the sides of a medium-sized saucepan. In the pan, combine the 2 cups of reduced root beer, sugar, sorghum syrup (or light corn syrup), butter, and salt. Attach a candy thermometer and set the burner to medium heat. When the liquid mixture registers 238 °F, drizzle the mixture over popped popcorn and stir to coat. Let mixture stand 8-10 minutes or until it can be easily handled.
4. Grease your hands lightly with butter and stir the mixture to distribute the candy mixture. Shape into 3-inch balls and place on a greased sheet pan, or on a surface lined with wax paper.
5. When completely cool, popcorn balls can be individually wrapped in waxed paper and tied with ribbon.