Homemade Caramel Corn

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Oh, caramel corn! Cue dramatic sigh. I love caramel corn! This is a childhood favorite of mine. My Nana used to make huge batches of this during the fall/winter and it brings back memories of watching football games at my Nana and Papa’s house where my Dad and Papa are yelling at the Buffalo Bills.

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My Nana was a huge influence on me growing up. Like myself, she loved cooking and baking. She especially loved candy making, and I remember the homemade peanut butter cups and turtles she used to make at Easter time. But that’s another story. My Nana had a huge collection of recipes, and over the next few months I hope to share a few more of my favorites from her collection. Here is her recipe for caramel corn.

Homemade Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 2 c nuts (optional)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I used a combination of peanuts and walnuts but you can use any nuts you would like (or none at all).

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Directions:

First let’s get this popcorn popped. I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. When I say medium-low heat I mean somewhere between a 3-4 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) Every stove is different, but I can tell you that if you have the temperature too high the kernels will pop very quickly and it will burn easily; if you have the temperature too low you will be waiting for the kernels to pop for a while. You know your stove top best, so adjust as needed.

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Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (aprox 10-12 minutes).

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Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into a large bowl.

Pick out any burned kernels and throw away.

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This will make 3 quarts of popped corn, so if you’re going for the whole 6 quarts repeat this process, if you are looking to only make a half batch stop here. If you make a half batch be sure to cut the measurements in half for the caramel sauce. I note this because, this is my Nana’s recipe. And it makes a lot. A whole lotta caramel corn.

Before we get the caramel sauce started, preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and spray 2 shallow pans with cooking spray. If you do not have large shallow pans I recommend foil roasting pans. Also, before starting the caramel sauce measure out the baking soda, set aside, and add the nuts to the bowl of popped corn.

Next, in a saucepan (large enough to hold 2 quarts), combine the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt.

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Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Tip: if your hand gets too hot while stirring put a pot holder over your hand for while you stir.

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After boiling for 5 minutes the caramel should look something like this:

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Now comes the fun part! After the caramel sauce has boiled for 5 minutes remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble slightly, lighten in color, and the texture will become slightly fluffy. Pour the sauce over the popped corn. Working quickly using a slotted spoon, mix the caramel sauce over the kernels, it will start to cool and harden quickly.  Warning: this caramel sauce is hot, and it will make the bowl hot, so watch those fingers! Also note it’s helpful to have a lovely assistant present to hold the pan while you scrape the caramel sauce over the kernels. Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn and nuts. Then pour the mixture into the prepared shallow pans.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and stir the caramel corn. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

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After baking allow the caramel corn to cool slightly and then break into small pieces.

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Store in zip lock bags. Or large Fall-themed mugs.

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Don’t fret over the caramel sauce pot; some hot soapy water will dissolve the caramel in a jiff.

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Homemade Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/3 c unpopped corn kernels
  • 2 c nuts (optional)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I used a combination of peanuts and walnuts but you can use any nuts you would like (or none at all).

Directions:

To pop the popcorn; I find it’s easier to do this in two batches. Start with a large-sized pot and heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Heat until the oil is shiny and easily coats the bottom of the pan. Add 2/3 c of corn kernels to the warm oil and stir with a wooden spoon so that the kernels are evenly coated and spread out over the base of the pot. Cover and let the kernels pop (aprox 10-12 minutes).

Stay close to the pot, if you don’t hear any popping within a 4-5 second interval it’s time to take the pot off the heat. Once the kernels are all popped remove from heat. VERY CAREFULLY, using hot-pot-holders, firmly hold the lid down on the pot while you flip it over 2-3 times. This releases the steam from the popcorn. Next pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Pick out any burned kernels and throw away.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and spray 2 shallow pans with cooking spray. If you do not have large shallow pans I recommend foil roasting pans. Also, before starting the caramel sauce measure out the baking soda, set aside, and add the nuts to the bowl of popped corn.

Next, in a saucepan (large enough to hold 2 quarts), combine the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.

After the caramel sauce has boiled for 5 minutes remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble slightly, lighten in color, and the texture will become slightly fluffy. Pour the sauce over the popped corn.

Working quickly, using a slotted spoon, mix the caramel sauce over the kernels, it will start to cool and harden quickly. Distribute the sauce as evenly as possible over the popped corn and nuts. Then pour the mixture into the prepared shallow pans. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and stir the caramel corn. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. After baking allow the caramel corn to cool slightly and then break into small pieces. Store in airtight containers or plastic bags.

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