The balls stiffen when they are kept chilled in the refrigerator and soften when they are left out at room temperature.
10 cups popped plain popcorn
20 caramels, unwrapped
1 cup miniature marshmallows
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Butter or margarine
Put popcorn into a very large bowl; set aside.
Measure marshmallows and water into a 2- or 4-cup glass measure or bowl. Add the caramels to the glass measure or bowl and microwave on HIGH for about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir and microwave 1 more minute. Stir the mixture until the marshmallows are completely melted (about a minute). Add vanilla extract and cinnamon. Pour immediately over the popped corn and toss until well coated and cooled. Lightly grease hands with butter or margarine. Using about 1 cup of popcorn mixture, form into a ball. Wrap the ball with plastic wrap and use a ribbon to tie. The ribbon colors can be coordinated for holidays. Repeat with the remaining caramel corn and place the popcorn balls in the refrigerator until needed.
Baked Caramel Corn: Instead of making popcorn balls, spread the popcorn mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 250 degree F oven for about 18 minutes (watch carefully to prevent overbrowning). Break apart.
Makes 10 balls.