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All-American Popcorn Balls

 1 cup large-flake sweetened coconut
 1 cup pecan halves
 Vegetable spray
 1 cup sugar
 1/3 cup light corn syrup
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
 1 3-ounce bag plain microwave popcorn or  1/3 cup regular popcorn kernels
         (enough to yield 11 1/2 cups popped corn)
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 cup Rice Krispies
 1/2 cup mini marshmallows.

1. Heat oven to 300F. Spread coconut evenly over baking sheet and toast on lowest
oven rack until deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While
coconut toasts, halve pecans lengthwise, turn them onto separate baking sheet and
toast on upper rack until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Cool both, combine and set aside.

2. Spray large mixing bowl or deep stock pot with vegetable spray and set aside.
Combine sugar, corn syrup,  1/3 cup water, salt and butter in small saucepan and bring
to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When butter melts and liquid is
simmering, stop stirring, place candy thermometer in pot and cook until syrup registers
230 degrees. At this point, begin popping corn.

4. Cook syrup until temperature is just under 245 degrees. Remove saucepan from heat,
and stir in vanilla. Turn warm popped corn into prepared bowl or pot and drizzle half the
sugar syrup over, stirring vigorously with a rubber spatula to coat kernels evenly. Add
remaining syrup, coconut, pecans and Rice Krispies and stir to combine; add marshmallows
and continue stirring from bottom of pot until dry ingredients are evenly coated and no
syrup remains on bottom.

5. Rinse hands with cold water, and while mixture is still hot, begin forming popcorn balls,
3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter, placing finished balls on sheet lined with parchment or waxed
paper. Use a light touch, but a little pressure to help balls become round and compact.
Popcorn balls are best eaten within 8 hours but will keep nicely in covered containers for
three days.

Yield: About 14 popcorn balls.

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