One of my favorite fall treats is caramel popcorn. Sure, I could make it any time of the year, but it’s so addicting that I’m better off saving it for special occasions. It really is amazing, especially when it’s warm and gooey, straight off the stove!
I usually make caramel popcorn for parties. It takes little time to make and it makes a party-sized portion. Not only does this recipe serve a lot, but when I share rather than keeping it all to myself, I’m not tempted to overindulge. It’s easy to overindulge. Caramel is one of my favorite sweets. Plus, I like to impress my friends. I’ve hosted quite a few teenage parties and caramel popcorn never disappoints.
Ok, let’s move on to the recipe. That’s what you’re really here for, right? You only need a few ingredients: corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt, vanilla and, of course, popcorn. The easy way to do it would be to pop 3 bags of lite popcorn. Ever since I learned that the lining in the microwave popcorn bags contain cancer-causing ingredients, I don’t bring microwave popcorn into my house. It’s easy enough to make it in a pot on the stove, or with an air popper, and I figure it’s healthier without the added chemicals. But, let’s be real about it-this recipe is far from healthy. Another reason why I only make it once a year.
First, you want to get your popcorn ready. Pop your 3 bags or make the equivalent of 3 bags on your stove or with your air popper. It’s not an exact science on how much popcorn you need. The more you use, the less caramel on each piece of popcorn you get. The less popcorn, the more caramel. After your popcorn is popped, put it in a large bowl and pick out any kernels in your popcorn; set aside.
Melt your butter in a tall stock pot. You will want a tall pot so that it’s easier to stir in the popcorn at the end. Or, you can drizzle the caramel over the popcorn in another bowl. Either way, use a tall stockpot. When you add the baking soda in another step, it will poof up a bit and you don’t want it to run over the edges.
After the butter is melted, add your brown sugar, salt and corn syrup and give it a good stir. Stir until the butter is longer separated on top of the mixture; it should be well incorporated with the mixture.
Next, add your vanilla and then your baking soda. This is when the mixture will poof up a little.
Now you are ready to mix in the popcorn. You can either drizzle it over the popcorn in the bowl, or add the popcorn in your stockpot; whichever works best for you. It might be easier to divide the batch in half and then, once it’s mixed, add both halves together and give it one good stir. Make sure the caramel is evenly distributed throughout the popcorn.
And now the best part…time to eat! You can serve immediately (which I think is best) or you can save it for later. It keeps well if you put it in an air tight container. It will stay good for several days. But it probably won’t last that long!