crunchy caramel corn

Can you believe I’ve never made caramel corn before? I know! I can’t either! I had no idea it was so easy and simple to make. Geoff’s never been a big caramel corn fan, although I’m totally nuts for it, so really the only time I get to eat it is when the neighbors give us some for Christmas. There appear to be two camps when it comes to caramel corn: the gooey, sticky camp, and the crunchy camp. I have decided that I am firmly entrenched in both camps. So pretty much, if it has caramel and popcorn, count me in. Geoff, as I have discovered, is clearly in the crunchy camp. And being that he had only ever had soft caramel corn before, he was less than impressed with it. After a few bites of this popcorn, he was totally hooked! It’s definitely on the crunchy side, but it you don’t like that, you could shorten the baking time, or skip it all together. Either way, make this popcorn!

Caramel Corn
Life {Made} Simple

½ c. unpopped pop corn
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 c. brown sugar, packed
¼ c. light corn syrup
2 tsp. molasses
½ c. butter
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Generously spray or butter one rimmed baking sheet, set aside. In a cold large dutch oven or stock pot with a lid, add oil and pop corn kernels. Coat kernels with oil and turn on heat to medium. Once the first kernel pops (around 2-3 minutes after turning the heat on), place the lid on. Once the kernels have popped and you only hear one every few seconds, remove the pot from the heat. Pour the popcorn into a large mixing bowl (you want extra room to stir).

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, butter and salt. Bring to a simmer (or a slow boil), stirring often. You’ll know the mixture is ready when it reads 250 degrees on a candy thermometer (it will take 5 to 6 minutes).

Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour the mixture over the popcorn and gently mix until all of the popcorn is coated (stir in peanuts if desired). Pour the coated popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let pan cool on a wire rack for 25 minutes. When caramel corn has cooled, break up into chunks. Serve or store for up to one week.

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