Caramel corn is something I have never really took a liking to, but with most things I hated as a child, I absolutely love as an adult. I still don't like candy corn (seen in mixture above) but my husband does so I thought I would incorporate that into the mixture.
In lieu of Halloween and Thanksgiving that are both just around the corner, I decided to do a "theme week" here on my blog. About time, right? I just past my one-year blogging anniversary and it's about time to get organized. I need to try recipes in advance and then post them according to the appropriate holiday. The only part about that I don't like? What do I actually make for the holiday when my family is expecting something amazing? I figured that I would just repeat the successful recipes since they don't get to see or taste the first version; those are for me, my husband and our friends. ;)
1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pop the popcorn as desired (I use my no-fail Cuisinart popcorn maker from Williams-Sonoma). Place popcorn in two very large bowls with enough room to toss them later without the popcorn overflowing.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Meanwhile, to make the caramel: melt butter in 2 quart sauce pan on medium heat. Once melted, add in the syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a slight boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and allow the mixture to boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. I had to keep an eye on the mixture as it would boil to the top of the sauce pan and I would have to lift the corner off the stove to let it cool back down.
After 5 minutes, remove mixture from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. Mixture will be bubbly and frothy, which is exactly what you want. Pour the caramel evenly between the two bowls of popcorn and toss with salad tongs until evenly coated. Lightly grease a few cookie sheets and lay the popcorn on them as evenly as possible. I used the suggested parchment paper (different than wax paper) so use that for an alternative.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Watch out for falling popcorn on your feet because it will be so hot it might burn you (trust me, I would know now). Test a piece of popcorn at 40 minutes and it should be crunchy and not soft or mushy. Place the baking sheets on wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely before breaking apart. Store them in an airtight container or plastic treat bags. They will not stay fresh more than a few hours in the open air.