For Christmas last year, Michelle made this divine caramel popcorn.  We got a big bag of it, then I proceeded to eat about 50% of it in one sitting.  I felt immediately guilty for not sharing with Martin, so I put the rest of it away for him … but by the time he got to it, maybe only 33-ish% was left.  Sorry, Martin!  It was too delicious.

Michelle gave me the recipe but I’ve never made it, mostly because I’ve never had a big enough pan to bake 15 cups of popcorn in one sitting.  But I finally got a sheet pan and decided to go all-out for Emily’s Halloween party!  And it was seriously a thrill for me, I finally got to break open the bottle of Karo’s corn syrup that I bought specifically for this recipe (oh and pecan pie) and yet have never used.  And I may or may not have owned this bottle for 6+ months.  So yay caramel popcorn and using up corn syrup!

What can I say?  It’s the little things in life that make my day.

Ch-ch-check it out:

Pop! goes the … popcorn.

Mixing it up was easy enough … the problem came because of proportions.  The recipe calls for 15 cups POPPED popcorn (and yes, my copy of the recipe really emphasizes that popped part!).  A single bag of the microwave popcorn I bought made 11 cups, so I made 2 bags and increased the caramel part of the recipe by 50%.

(May I take a moment to say WOWZA.  I have never been much of a popcorn gal, so I never realized how limiting your options are for popcorn when you DON’T want popcorn with butter, EXTRA butter or MOVIE STYLE ZOMG butter.  I spent a good 5 minutes analyzing the popcorn selection at the grocery store and came up with exactly 2 options for unbuttered popcorn, one of which was organic.)

And now returning to the recipe at hand:  Instead of increasing by 50%, I think that I should have just increased it by 25%.  I can’t believe I am about to say this but: I think there was TOO MUCH caramel topping!  I apparently like lightly coated caramel popcorn and not super sugary caramel popcorn – who would have ever guessed?

Also, I learned the accidental-oops way that throwing in the baking soda with everything else and not after everything is boiling will not adversely affect it too much.  I don’t know what adding the baking soda last would normally have done, though.  Maybe make it foam up?  When I make it right the next time, I will be sure to let you know!

If you are unable to spread the popcorn in a single layer in the pan (I wasn’t because I’d made so much!) be sure to mix it up real well and test popcorn from the bottom of the pack for done-ness.  I just tested the top and the bottom pieces were still a bit chewy.  I think super crispy is the way to go (there is a pleasant crunching sound that comes when you bite into a piece!) so I would definitely check a bit more carefully next time.

Caramel Popcorn
by Michelle

15 cups POPPED plain popcorn (salted is okay)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1.  Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.

2.  Mix together all ingredients BUT baking soda.  Bring to a boil.  Add baking soda and remove from heat.

3.  Pour over popcorn, carefully tossing to coat.  Spread onto sheet pan and bake in oven for minimum 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until popcorn is crisp.

Servings:  Lots of yumminess!