I have made a resolution and its not even New Years yet – I need to make more ‘real’ popcorn. And by ‘real’ I mean the type in my air popper and not in the microwave. I have forgotten how fresh it tastes and you control exactly what goes into it. And this caramel corn is about as far from healthy as you get – but it is amazing! I had no idea how simple it was to make – and that means I plan on making this many more times in the future. At first I was concerned when I stirred the caramel in the popcorn and it started to seize up – but when this is cooked in the oven at a low temperature – the caramel softens again and you thoroughly coat the popcorn with it. If you don’t believe me – try it – it is out of this world good!
And if you can manage to share just a little bit of this amazingness – it does make some really great gifts. Perfect for someone you forgot at the last minute!
- 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Pop popcorn using whichever method you wish. Place the popped popcorn into two large bowls (plastic works better).
2. Preheat the oven to 250° F.
3. To make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
4. Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring.
5. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.
6. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowls and toss to coat thoroughly.
7. Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes. After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn. If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.
8. Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.