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Cranberry Popcorn Balls

3 qt. popped popcorn
1 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 c. chopped frozen cranberries, thawed
1-1/3 c. sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tbsp. shredded orange peel
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3-4 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn in a large, 4 inch deep, buttered baking pan. Keep warm in the oven. Pour water into a large buttered saucepan. Securely tie cloves, allspice and cinnamon in a piece of cheesecloth and place in water. Cover saucepan and simmer 20 minutes. Remove spices from pan. Stir in cranberries, sugar, corn syrup, orange peel, nutmeg and food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolved and mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking until mixture reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove popcorn from heat. Pour syrup mixture slowly over popcorn, stirring to coat. Shape into balls. Allow to cool, wrap in plastic wrap, tie with colored ribbon and give as gifts during the holiday season



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