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Salty Maple-Pecan Popcorn Balls

Anyone who grew up making popcorn balls will remember fondly the quick, hot work of shaping the sticky mixture into balls that would quickly set up. It's an old-fashioned treat that we're bringing back because they're a 100% whole-grain dessert. That's right—popcorn is a whole grain, and popcorn balls are an easy way to turn those grains into a sweet, healthy treat for the family.

Photo: Oxmoor House

Salty Maple-Pecan Popcorn Balls Hands-on: 35 min Total: 45 min

1 tablespoon canola oil 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn 2/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add popcorn; cover and cook 3 minutes or until kernels pop, shaking pan frequently. When popping slows down, remove pan from heat. Let stand 1 minute or until popping stops. Pour popcorn into a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Add pecans.

2. Combine sugar and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a medium, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 275º. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Immediately pour hot syrup over popcorn; toss well to coat. Cool slightly (about 1 to 2 minutes). Carefully form mixture into 8 balls, being careful not to compact too tightly.

SERVES 8 (serving size: 1 popcorn ball) CALORIES 270; FAT 10.1g (sat 1.6g, mono 5.2g, poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 2g; CARB 45g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 4mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 295mg; CALC 27mg

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