For those of you who love making gifts from the kitchen, caramel popcorn is the perfect recipe. It looks beautiful in mason jars wrapped with ribbons and tags -- from your kitchen to someone's table, it will always be greatly appreciated. I also love it as a great snack while watching television or just kicking back and reading a good book. Carmel popcorn is one of those wonderful make ahead items, you can keep it in an airtight container for approximately two weeks -- unless someone discovers the stash first, “those people will remain nameless”.
This is a straight ahead recipe and requires no special equipment, you do not even have to deal with a candy thermometer. I know that a candy thermometer is not a hard piece of equipment to master -- some people would just rather not deal with it. Although this recipe does take about an hour and a half by the time you pop the corn and finish baking, I feel you will be very happy with the results.
If you want to try a simple rewarding recipe this one is definitely a good choice. Gather your ingredients and equipment before you start, measure out everything, and keep a wet cloth by you just in case you get into a sticky situation. When cooking the mixture take caution not to splash -- hot sugar does burn.
Yields 6 servings or 1 big one
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
sea salt for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups popped popcorn
Place popped corn in a large greased stainless steel bowl, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the butter in a medium saucepan, on medium heat. Use a wooden spoon and stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir the mixture continuously and bring to boil, continue to boil for four minutes without stirring. Take off the heat after four minutes and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Drizzle the caramel mixture over the popped corn until it is all incorporated, mix the popcorn and the caramel until all the popped corn is coated evenly. Spread the caramel covered popcorn in shallow baking dishes, then sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake in the preheated oven. Stir the caramel corn every fifteen minutes for about an hour, remove from oven and cool completely, before breaking the mixture up. Store the caramel corn in airtight containers.
If you want to give as gifts you can buy some fancy tins or mason jars, just place the caramel corn in cellophane bags, tie with a fancy tie and place in the tins or load up a mason jar with amber rich goodness, write a label and call it a gift -- perfect.