This recipe is a classic. I didn't think I liked caramel corn until my neighbor Beckie brought this to us several years ago. I ate almost the whole tin before anyone else even got to try some. When I ran back down to Beckie's house to ask her for the recipe she acted a bit surprised as if there is nothing special about this recipe. She could've also acted surprised because I was quite winded from running and standing in her kitchen holding an empty Christmas tin.
Anyway, she shared and there isn't really anything special about this recipe. No secret weird ingredients or pudding mixes [in case you've missed previous baking posts...I LOVE pudding mix]. I think this just happens to be a simple recipe [butter, brown sugar, popcorn mostly] with really good instructions.
I dare you to try it, I've made this for reluctant caramel corn eaters who have surprisingly been won over. I've included the recipe at the bottom, but will walk you through the steps first.....
First put your butter, brown sugar, karo syrup, and a bit of salt in a saucepan. The pan needs to be pretty big because this mixture puffs up later....stay tuned. Turn it on medium high and stay close, stirring every little bit.
While keeping an eye on the butter/sugar/syrup mixture go ahead and start popping your corn. [snicker - not sure why - I guess saying "start popping your corn" kinda cracks me up]. Two bags of full size microwave popcorn will work, I popped about 1 cup in my air popper and nearly overflowed my specially bought caramel popcorn metal bowl....maybe a heaping 3/4 cup would be best. If unpopped kernels bother you, sort through the popped corn and pick them out.
After a few really frustrating attempts at caramel corn I bought this big metal bowl. It holds 8 quarts and is just right. You need a big 8 quart bowl, the end.
Now put in your walnuts.....these are super fantastic after they've been roasted with the yummy caramel.
Meanwhile back on the stovetop, your butter mixture should just begin to boil and will look like this. As soon as you see these little bubbles in the middle set your timer for 5 minutes and give this caramel your full attention stirring it often to scrape the bottom and sides really well. When you put butter and sugar together......they make beautiful caramel [unless you forget them and walk away - then things get ugly really quickly, they are kinda high maintenance that way].
At the end of 5 minutes, your mixture will look like this.....it's gonna be yum!
When the timer rings, take your caramely goodness off the heat and stir in the baking soda, stirring well. It will puff up and turn this light color.
Now it's time to pour this great good caramel over the popcorn and stir to coat. Resist the urge to stick your fingers into this stuff. It is so hot, but I can never quite wait. I get burned every time I make caramel corn.
Patience, I know.
When I make caramel corn I line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray it very well with Pam. After the popcorn is all coated I pour it onto this pan and put it in the oven. I let it bake for 15 minutes and then take it out and turn it and break it up a little bit and put it back in the oven for 15 more minutes (you'll do this three times so that it bakes for 1 hour total).
This is what it looks like after you've let it cool a little bit. This is so good! Great for gifts too....Enjoy!
2 bags microwave popcorn, pop and remove kernels or 3/4 cup unpopped corn
2 cups walnut halves
2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup white Karo syrup
½ lb (2 sticks) real butter....don’t use margarine!
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
Heat sugars, butter, Karo syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan. Once mixture just starts to boil, set timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in soda....mix well. Pour caramel syrup over popcorn and nuts in a very large bowl! Stir until well coated. Spread on a jellyroll pan or large cookie sheet with sides. I line mine with foil or parchment paper and spray with Pam. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.