Friday, June 23, 2006
Ingredients (you can double this if you have a family)
* 1/2 cup popcorn unpopped (makes enough to fill a small Dutch oven or about 3 quarts)
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/4 cup corn syrup
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp real vanilla
1. Pop popcorn using your preferred method. You can even use unbuttered microwave popcorn, just make sure you have no more than 3 quarts when cooked).
2. Place popped corn in a BIG bowl or another big cooking pot.
3. Preheat oven to 250F.
4. In a 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, gently melt the butter,watch it so it doesn't burn.
5. Stir in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sugar mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
6. Once it boils, boil for 5 minutes. (use a timer or clock, don't go over). Some recipes will tell you to stir constantly as it boils, others say don't stir at all, stirring will make it less likely to burn if you turn your heat up too high but the coating will be creamier if you don't stir.
7. Remove from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla. (have those measured out prior to the cooking so they're handy). The mixture will foam and get frothy. That's normal.
8. Pour the caramel sauce over the popped corn and toss completely to coat. If there's clumps don't worry, the caramel will remain spreadable as it cooks and the coating can be evened out.
9. Spread the popcorn evenly onto a large cookie or baking sheets (I use a jelly roll pan which has small sides to it so it's easier to stir). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
10. Spoon cooked popcorn onto waxed paper (or foil if you have none but it sticks less to the wax paper) and allow to cool before breaking apart.
11. Keep poachers at bay with a large wooden spoon while you seal cooled caramel corn in an airtight container -- Or turn on a good Western and serve immediately.