2 cups sugar
2/3 cup apple juice or water
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4 quarts warm popped popcorn *
1 cup honey-roasted, unsalted or salted peanuts
1 8-ounce package chopped dates (1-1/2 cups)
Combine sugar, apple juice, syrup, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove sugar from sides of pan with a wet brush. Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 270-degrees, or the soft crack stage on a candy thermometer. Add vanilla.
Pour mixture over popped popcorn, peanuts and dates; mix well. Wet or butter hands and shape into 3-inch balls.
*Note: 1 ounce of unpopped popcorn kernels (2 tablespoons household measure) makes approximately 1 quart of popped popcorn.
Recipe makes 18 Country Popcorn Balls.
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