Caramel Popcorn

by Karen on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Post image for Caramel Popcorn

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I'm not sure why, and when I actually thought about it I realized I had no idea why we celebrate this holiday or why everyone loves it so much.  Maybe it's because this is the one holiday we have where we can dress in costume?  Or perhaps it's because Halloween got us hooked at an early age with the yearly prospect of endless pillowcases of candy.  I'll admit it– I still get excited at the prospect of fun-sized candies this time of year.

So when I was thinking of what to make for Halloween this week I thought what better way to celebrate the occasion than to elevate a childhood sweet treat: caramel popcorn!  Cracker Jacks are fun and all, but let's be honest we got them for the prizes.  Homemade carmel popcorn is a revelation: super crispy, nutty, not painfully sweet, a slight salty and extremely addictive.

It is really easy to make at home with just a few ingredients and yields more than you can possibly handle.  The extra step of placing the popcorn in the oven is key to getting every nook and cranny coated so don't skip it.

Happy Halloween folks!

- 1 3.3 oz of microwavable popcorn, natural-flavored and “cook” according to directions
-  1 cup of light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of light corn syrup
- 6 tbsps of unsalted butter
- pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 2 tsps of vanilla extract
- 1 handful of salted roasted peanuts

Pour the popcorn into a large mixing bowl.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat and add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and add 2 tbsps of water. Turn the heat to medium high and stir with a whisk until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees (about 3-5 minutes).

Turn off the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla and whisk together.  It will bubble up and turn a light color.  Quickly pour the mixture over the popcorn and lightly fold the caramel in the best you can without breaking the kernels too much.  Add the peanuts.  Don't worry if it isn't entirely coated and the caramel hardens– that's what the next step is for.

Pour the mixture over a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in the oven.

After 20 minutes or so check on it and the caramel should be melty.  Using a spatula mix the popcorn so that the caramel evenly coats the nuts and popcorn.  You can repeat this a couple of times waiting about 10-15 minutes in between.

When the mixture is sufficiently coated, take the popcorn out and let it cool– it won't take very long for the caramel to harden.  Store in air tight containers and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from here)

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{ 11 comments }

Isaac Kojima October 25, 2011 at 6:31 am

Mine caramel popcorn is much easier to make and it uses less ingredients, just corn, butter and sugar.
Since I don’t like microwave popcorn, I just put everything in a popcorn pan (http://images02.olx.com.br/ui/2/44/45/39143945_2.jpg) and put it in medium heat, always mixing, to not burn. Easy and delicious.

la domestique October 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

What a perfect recipe for Halloween, the time when I crave goodies like this!

Valerie October 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Gorgeous and sooooooo yummy looking! I recognize that jar… I might have to stay away from your house for awhile so I don’t empty that thing in one go!

Belinda @zomppa October 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I am SUCH a popcorn – sweet popcorn – fan, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself!

Karen November 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Same, put a bag of kettle corn in front of me and it’s gone!

Erica November 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

what beautiful photos and a dangerous recipe. should i thank you now for my growing waistline? xx

Karen November 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Yup– that means I’m doing a good job right? :)

sherri lynn @ life of a wife November 3, 2011 at 8:02 am

I don’t like regular popcorn but I can get into caramel corn! Beautiful pictures, also!

Karen November 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Thanks so much!

JustPoppin Buck November 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Next time you make caramel popcorn, try making it with Mushroom Popcorn. Because of its sturdy round shape, it doesn’t break when you mix it with the thick caramel candy and it separates easily. You wouldn’t have the big glob or all of the broken pieces seen in the last photo. It’s also much healthier for you than microwave popcorn from a box.

I love the fact that you included a pic (a nice one!) of the caramel foaming up after adding the baking soda – that’s a step that surprises a lot of first time caramel corn cookers!

Alacarte Kulinaria December 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

What a wonderful idea! I love pop-corn!

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