Tuesday, December 21, 2010

day 21 - caramel popcorn

Today was kid's choice.  They got to help make today's treat, and they got to choose who we gave it away to (their first choice was each other!).  Of course they chose Caramel Popcorn.  They have been asking for this since the first time I made it back in September.

First thing first, grab the trusty old air popper and start making popcorn.  Mine is a hand-me-down that I'm sure was purchased used by the person that passed it to me.  It is missing a part, but I still make it work.  I use about 1/2 to 2/3 cup kernels.  If you like your popcorn super coated, then stick with the 1/2 cup, if you like some un-coated pieces, the 2/3 cup is a good amount.  Once you have all the popcorn popped, it is a good idea to sift through it for un-popped kernels. The first time I made this I didn't take the extra time for that step, and my teeth suffered.  Set aside the popcorn in a large bowl, time to make the syrup!

In a large sauce pan on the stove, melt 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), once that is melted, stir in 2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup and 1 tsp salt.  Bring this entire mixture to a rolling boil, and boil for about 4 minutes without stirring.  One of these days I"ll clip on my candy thermometer and give you a precise temp, but 4 minutes is good.  At this point it should be quite foamy and have expanded in size.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  The mixture will sputter, so please stand back. 

Pour the caramel over the popped popcorn and start stirring. Continue mixing the popcorn until it is evenly coated.  Spread the coated popcorn out onto 2 rimmed baking sheets, and place in a 250* oven for 45 minutes.  Every 15 minutes take the pans out, stir them and rotate.  After 45 minutes remove the pans from the oven and let cool.  As the popcorn cools, it will harden.  Once it is hardened and cool enough to handle, break up into pieces.

And only because we just visited the dentist this morning, please go brush your teeth after eating this!


Caramel Popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 qts popcorn

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on the stove. Once melted add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir to combine.  When the mixture has come to a boil, boil without stirring for 4 minutes.  While sugar mixture is cooking, put popped popcorn in a large mixing bowl.  Once sugar has cooked for 4 minutes, remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla, stir to combine. Drizzle sugar mixture over the popcorn and mix thoroughly.  Spread the coated popcorn onto two rimmed baking sheets and place in a 250* F oven.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Popcorn will harden as it cools.

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