Do you crave salty snacks or do you crave sweet snacks? Me? It’s usually salty and one of my all-time favorite snack foods is popcorn. As a kid I made it in an air popper (what a great Christmas present that was!), in a microwavable popcorn popping bowl that my mom recently reminded me about, in the microwave in pre-packaged bags, and in the pre-microwave days, on the stove in a big pot. Well life has come full-circle because last year, I started popping my popcorn on the stove again. And it’s thanks to this recipe for encouraging me to do so.
If you love caramel corn as much as I do, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. And if you’re a novice at making caramel like I certainly was last year when I first made this recipe, you’ll have no trouble making it here – it’s so easy! You’ll make your popcorn, whip up some caramel, pour it over the popcorn, toss to coat, and put the popcorn in the oven on a low temperature for almost an hour. The most difficult part about the whole process is waiting for it to cool! This year, I made a double batch and packaged it all up yesterday for Christmas treat packages…and frankly, it’s better that I don’t have any left in the house for myself because I can’t keep my hands off of it!
Make sure you come back tomorrow for a special Christmas post!
- 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pop popcorn using your preferred method. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls). Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.
- Preheat the oven to 250° F. Meanwhile, 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.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly. (I found my salad spoons very useful for this step.)
- Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout. It will melt and become better spread out while baking.) 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.
- Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.