I’m issuing a warning before we move ahead with this. This stuff is addictive. I suggest immediately packaging it up in cute, festive containers and giving it away to friends and family. There, you’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Although caramel corn is just fine on it’s own, I like to mix in some pretzels, black licorice, and candy corn. There are lots of possibilities. Mixed nuts, assorted candies, anything goes. The add-ins add some nice contrast and make it even more festive.
Let’s make some caramel corn!
The first step is to air pop a boat load of popcorn. Okay, not an actual boat load, I used about 3/4 cup popcorn kernels to get 4 quarts of popped corn. I use my air popper to pop the corn directly into my turkey roasting pan. If you don’t have a turkey roasting pan you could use one of those disposable foil roasting pans from the grocery store or any oven safe pan large enough to hold a boat load of popcorn. Be sure to dig through the popcorn and pick out any unpopped kernels.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and place the roasting pan inside to keep the popped corn warm while preparing the caramel. It will be easier to coat if it is warm when you pour the caramel mixture over it.
Here is the caramel mixture. We are ready to make us some caramel corn!
Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn in a thin stream and mix it well to coat the pieces as well as possible.
Spray two rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray and divide the coated popcorn between them. Here is where I muster up all the will power I’ve got to push down the voice in my head that’s telling me to eat it now.
It’s time for it to go in the oven. Toss it around a bit with a large spoon every 15 minutes or so while it cooks. The longer you bake it, the crispier it will be. If you don’t care about your relationship with your dentist, you can take it out of the oven after 30 minutes and it will be soft and chewy. For a crisp, crunchy result, bake for 45 minutes. After baking, remove it from the oven and allow to sit till cool enough to handle. Go through it with your hands, breaking up any large chunks. Store in an airtight container or two gallon sized zippered storage bags.
Now beg people to take it out of your house! But save a little for movie night or the football game or to munch on when you are handing out candy on Halloween night.
4 quarts adjust servings
- 3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 quarts popped popcorn
- Optional Add-Ins: black licorice pieces, pretzels, candy corn, assorted nuts
- Preheat oven to 250 F degrees. Place popcorn in a large roasting pan and place in oven to keep warm while making caramel coating.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Remove popped corn from oven and carefully pour caramel mixture in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
- Spray two large rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide coated popcorn between the two baking sheets and bake in the oven at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes, for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces. Keep it pure and simple or add any optional add-ins to dress it up.
- Store in an airtight container or zippered plastic storage bags.