Cararmel Popcorn, Carrot Cheese Balls

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4 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking sheet
10 cups plain unsalted popped popcorn
1 cup cashews or peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Coarse Salt

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Butter a large baking sheet.
  • Place popcorn in a large bowl.
  • Add cashes to bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Working VERY quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.
  • Spread popcorn evenly on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and shiny, about 40 minutes.
  • Transfer hot popcorn to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet; let cool.
  • Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, finely grated (2 cups loosely packed)
1 cup finely grated carrots

  • In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and carrot.
  • With moistened hands, gently form about 24 balls.
  • Serve or refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, up to 2 days.