You know that caramel-covered popcorn that you buy in the big tin canisters with the pretty designs on the outside?
This is so much better.
Before this Caramel Corn recipe came into my sheltered life, I had never had homemade popcorn. My corn experience had mostly consisted of microwavable bags and overly buttered, calorie laden movie theater corn that, although delicious, seemed almost dangerous to eat.
I like popcorn. It’s really good. Is it my favorite thing in the world? Probably not. Although, its intoxicating smell certainly increases its allure. That’s how popcorn gets you; its buttery aroma comes wafting up your unsuspecting nostrils, and everything goes black for a few moments. When you come to again, your hands are slathered in butter and a elephant-sized portion of popcorn has disappeared.
But that’s neither here nor there. What I’m saying is that popcorn doesn’t necessarily get me excited. Well, at least not until I gave this caramel corn a try. My little cookies, let me tell you something: there is nothing in this world as wonderful as homemade caramel corn. That stuff you buy at the store is mere child’s play. You have not lived until you’ve eaten homemade caramel corn, and this recipe is the way to go.
Why you ask? Well for one, it’s HEAVENLY. Fresh popcorn gets coated in a beautiful caramel sauce, bursting with brown sugar flavor and smooth butteriness. Then, salty almonds and chopped pecans get lovingly tossed in for extra crunch in every munch. This is salty-sweet perfection, and it’s ridiculously addicting. I recently made a double batch to give to my bosses and co-workers as a Christmas gift, but I’d say only a single batch actually made it there.
The rest? Down my gullet.
So, besides being blow-your-mind delicious, this is surprisingly easy to make. Any time I see “caramel” in a recipe, I freak out. Caramel usually means candy thermometers and potential for burning the house down. This recipe, however, requires no candy thermometers or complicated procedures. You simply cook up the sauce, toss it with the popcorn, and bake that beautiful corn low and slow.
Piece. Of. Cake.
Obviously, this makes an amazing gift. Skip the same old fruitcake, and give people what they really want: crunchy, buttery, sweet Caramel Corn made with fresh, fluffy popcorn. They’ll go nuts for this stuff.
A Few Tips Before You Get
- Depending on how caramel-y you like your corn, you might want to double the sauce recipe. I never do, and I always regret it. It’s plenty caramel-y; don’t get me wrong. But I like my popcorn to be covered to the point where I don’t see a single bit of white poking through. It’s up to you, though.
- You can find cute Chinese take-out-style boxes like the one in my photos at just about any craft store (mine is from Michael’s). They’re cheap and perfect for gifting the popcorn in. I also found these great big see-through canisters, similar to the tin ones you typically see this popcorn, in at Micahel’s.
- You can really use any kind of nut(s) you want in this! Cashews are fantastic.
- Popping the popcorn the old-fashioned way not only tastes better (and fresher), but it’s practically as easy and going the microwave route. I haven’t done the math, but I would also assume it’s less expensive.
recipe adapted from Food Network
- 1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups nuts of your choice (I used 1 cup almonds & 1 cup chopped pecans)
Pop the popcorn according the package directions. Transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the sauce into all the popcorn). Set aside.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over popcorn. Add the nuts quickly and stir to coat well. Make sure you stir thoroughly so that the sauce covers the popcorn evenly. Be gentle stirring so as not to break the popcorn.
Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.