i have been working really hard all weekend on getting over this irritating little headcold: resting, not going to the gym, not going out with my friends…. not even getting out of my sweats, lets be honest. vacation is 1.5 days away and i need my health to return, immediately! so last night i really needed to scoot the tissue box closer, treat myself to two extra cups of tea, and to a bourbon for my throat and to one of my favorite Tarantino movies. and popcorrrrn!!
when we were growing up, my mom always made caramel corn in the fall, a tradition i have enthusiastically embraced. it really tastes of Autumn to me, the color of the crackly caramel reminding me of golden-colored leaves and early sunsets. a fantastic snack, if you like caramel corn. and even, if you don’t like it! my husband never cared for the stuff in his life before he ate some that i’d made with Mom’s recipe. now whenever it’s around, he munches on it every chance he can sneak some… even when i’ve made it for a party and scold him — “baaaabe! that’s for the ______’s party!” haha.
it is a little addictive. caramel corn has always been one of my very favorite sweets — i mean besides caramels – certainly thanks to the winning way my mom always cooked this up for us. she made hers — and still does! — in a giant enameled bowl that had chips on the edges. i can just picture it, full of caramel corn to bursting, but slyly covered with a kitchen towel in hopes we wouldn’t find it for a while. my sisters and brother and i would fight over mom’s caramel corn! her entire batch would disappear within hours of us knowing it was ready. it smells so enticcing when it’s in the oven, too…. you’ll feel as if you’re at the coast, strolling down a boardwalk past a candy shop that twists their own saltwater taffy and makes their own caramel corn from a big vat of bubbling, golden syrup. and the aromas make you so hungry for sugar! you know what i’m talking about? SO good!
this is a sinch to make and really, quite fool-proof. i’ve included directions that avoid the big clumps and small crumbs; instead you will find evenly-coated, evenly-sized bites of crisp (never sticky) caramel corn. i hope you try it, and love it as much as we always have! i also think that this is a wonderful cure for the common cold. i can feel my sense of smell returning…. mmmmm…. boiled sugar!
caramel cornyields one huge bowl, or 25 – 30 servings recipe source unknown
- 7 quarts (or enough to fill your large bowl/vessel) plain popped popcorn
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter (or substitute margarine)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
lightly grease two large, rimmed baking sheets with butter or oil. divide the plain popcorn between the two pans; set aside. pre-heat oven to 250F.
in a large, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and butter over medium heat. you’ll want to use a tough wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula with a long handle for this; it’s a warm job. once mixture begins boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes (or until about 280 degrees on a candy thermometer), stirring constantly and making sure to scrape all sides and the bottom of the pan.
remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla, stirring quickly, and the soda will cause the caramel to foam up. immediately pour over popcorn in the pans, dividing mixture in half for each pan as best you can. at this point, don’t worry about having the popcorn well-coated… you will get several more chances to stir and coat.
bake for one hour, removing each pan to give a good stir (and rotate between oven racks) every 15 minutes.
line countertop with waxed or parchment paper. pour caramel corn out onto paper from pans and spread into a single layer to cool, breaking up any large clumps. enjoy!
best eaten within a couple of days, and for best result and to avoid stickiness, store air-tight.