Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a happy holiday season. Does everybody have the post-holiday-waistline-blues? I know my pants were a little snug today! Although one may say caramel corn isn't exactly healthy, making your own is certainly healthier than eating out of the mega-size holiday tins with eight kinds of cheesy/caramel-y/completely bad for you popcorn. This recipe was very easy and was the perfect addition to my veggie-packed lunch bag. I wonder how long the healthy train will last this year...
1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pop popcorn using your preferred method. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls). Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.
Preheat the oven to 250 F. Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.
Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout. It will melt and become better spread out while baking.) Bake for 45-55 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes. After 45 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn. If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.
Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.
Source: adapted from Annie's Eats, originally Christie's Corner