And I’m back! Sorry for the extended absence. Between helping to plan a major fundraiser for the organization for which I volunteer (Resource Area for Teaching Colorado – check it out!) and preparing for our trip to Tokyo for Dr. O’s brother’s wedding (food post coming soon!), September was almost more than I could handle. We had some amazing experiences, but it’s good to be settling back into our usual routine.
I originally made today’s recipe – Caramel Corn – for a baseball-themed gourmet club meeting this summer, but with Halloween fast approaching, this treat would be so cute in clear bags with ribbons. What you don’t want to do (unless you’re really hungry or have an amazing metabolism) is make this all by yourself with no plans to share. It’s so ridiculously good that you will eat the whole batch.
Cracker Jack Caramel Corn Recipe
2 bags natural microwave popcorn (to yield 16 cups of popcorn)
12 ounces Spanish peanuts
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 300°F. Meanwhile, pop popcorn in microwave according to package directions and grease two large rimmed baking sheets.
Dump the popcorn and Spanish peanuts in a clean tall paper grocery bag. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt over medium heat and allow to gently boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Carefully and immediately pour caramel sauce into the paper grocery bag and stir the sauce, popcorn, and nuts with a wooden spoon until the sauce is evenly distributed.
Divide the popcorn mixture evenly between the two greased baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes. Cool completely and break up the pieces (if desired). Popcorn can be stored for at least a week (if it lasts that long!) in zip-top bags or airtight containers.
Note: The original recipe calls for air-popped popcorn and 1 tsp. salt. Using microwave popcorn was just easier for me.
Holy cow, was this ever fantastic. I think it borders on kettle corn, but any sweet-and-salty snack lovers will go crazy for it. With this sauce-to-popcorn ratio, the popcorn was lightly coated and stayed crisp. (I’ve had gooey, chewy caramel corn before and I like this much better.) It’s a perfect make-ahead snack or dessert as well; it tasted just as good on day five as it did on day one.
TIPS: I made a batch of this caramel corn for my parents, but I used cashews instead of peanuts. The result? Things worked much better with the peanuts. Maybe whole cashews would be okay, but cashew pieces almost burned.
Recipe link: Caramel Corn