Monday, October 24, 2011

A Fall Treat: Caramel Corn

I have absolutely loved reading about all your families' Christmas traditions.  Thank you so much for taking the time to share them with me.  Some of my face-to-face friends have remarked about how much they've enjoyed reading the comments, too, and I think some of them (like me) will be adopting new traditions thanks to you.

All this talk (and type) of Christmas brought something to my mind.  Caramel corn.  I was first introduced to the real stuff (not what comes in a third of those giant popcorn tins) when I met Jamey.  His mother made (and still does) real caramel popcorn every Christmas.  It wasn't a standard Christmas treat that I was used to but, my oh my, it has become one.

I recently made it for a church get-together and thought I should share the recipe with you.  I've stuck to my mother-in-law's ingredients and amounts, but have changed the proportions of popcorn to caramel a bit.  If you like yours coated less, use more popped popcorn.  If you want it coated even more heavily, decrease the popcorn or increase the caramel.  You all are smart.  You'll figure it out.

Warning: This is not something you should make if you are trying to watch your butter or sugar intake.  If you are, click away mighty fast, my friends, or give a good portion of it away immediately.  You do not want this lingering in your house if you have hopes to stay away from it.  I am only responsible for my own over-indulging.  Not yours.  Just so we're clear:-).

Caramel Popcorn (Jamey's mom's recipe, proportions only have been changed)
Keep in mind that this takes a couple hours to make (from start to finish).  So, don't start it an hour before you want to take it somewhere:-).
Makes about 2 1/2 gallons of caramel corn.

9 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup peanuts (optional)
3 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) butter (I use 2 1/2 sticks and it works well)
3/4 cup white corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Place the popped popcorn and peanuts (if using) in a very large bowl or pot.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  The mixture will puff up and lighten in color as it boils.

Remove it from the heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.  Pour over popcorn and peanuts and mix well.  If you stopped here, you would have soggy popcorn, so we need to bake it.  Turn out the popcorn into large baking pans (with sides) that are coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring/turning over every 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool only slightly.  Continue to set your timer- this time for every 10-15 minutes and while it's still warm, break up and stir the popcorn at these intervals until it's cooled completely.  This will keep it from sticking together in mammoth blocks.  When completely cooled, transfer to containers and keep in a cool, dry place.

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  1. Wow does that look delicious! I bet your house smelled heavenly, too.

    I've always wondered how to make Caramel corn - thank you for sharing!!!

  2. My mom used to make home-made caramel corn when we were kids. It is divine! I've tried doing it a couple times, but my mom couldn't remember exactly what recipe she used anymore (i.e. - she lost it) & I tried to pull a recipe together from memory. So, this is fantastic! Now, I have an honest to goodness recipe to use. Thank you!

  3. Wow with those photos and my love of anything sweet and buttery I can smell it even here...thanks for sharing the recipe. Robin in SoCal

  4. sure doesn't look at all like fiddle faddle-this looks like the honest to goodness real thing

  5. I used to make this every year and put in individual small bags to take in to each child in my daughter's class for Halloween. Instead of peanuts it is good with pecans too!

  6. Well, thanks a lot, Jane (she says facetiously)! ;o} I've been trying to avoid making caramel corn for the past two months (it's a fall-type treat around here) because once it's made, it is IMPOSSIBLE to stop eating it. Just what I (don't) need to start packing the winter hibernating bear fat on my frame!

    'Scuse me now while I go stir up some caramel corn.

  7. Ugh. A friend taught me how to make crispy caramel corn in less than 10 minutes using the microwave and my life has never been the same. A caramel corn hangover is rough.

  8. Have you ever tried making popcorn balls with these? I use a very similar recipe and am thinking about the possibilities...

  9. Anonymous,
    I have not made popcorn balls with this recipe. If you try it and it works well, please let me know. Thanks:-).

  10. looks GREAT. I didn't grow up with caramel corn, but I made a recipe last year that we loved. I didn't have to bake it after the popcorn was coated. . . does this mean it's a different kind..? Or is just a matter of taste and time?

  11. Margo,
    Good question. This is the only caramel corn recipe I've ever made, so I don't know. Sorry!

  12. I made a carmel corn similar to this one last night and it came out sugary/grainy. Has this ever happened to you? The flavor is good, but the texture is not. Thank you for your help on this. Janet

  13. Janet,
    I'm sorry yours didn't turn out how you hoped. My only thought is that maybe you didn't dissolve/boil the caramel mixture long enough. The recipe above is the only recipe I've ever used when making caramel corn and I haven't had any trouble with it (thanks to my mother-in-law's method, maybe?). I hope you're next batch is perfect!

  14. Do you use salted and/or roasted peanuts for this?

    1. I use roasted peanuts- salted are nice for the sweet/salty combination but unsalted work fine as well. :-)

    2. This is THE BEST recipe for caramel corn. I also chose to use the 2 1/2 sticks of butter instead of 3 and it turned out great. Thanks so much!


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