Yes, I do love popcorn. I’ll eat it just about any way I can get it. However I do prefer it popped on the stovetop over the microwave or air popped versions. And caramel, well, that’s a given. So the delectable combination of the two is a no-brainer for me. As far as my family goes, they love Cracker Jack so when I discovered there was a National Caramel Popcorn Day, I told myself I would defiantly have to try to make my own version of this all-time favorite snack.
And then, low and behold when I was wondering the aisles of my local Raley’s grocery store, there was a display for all things popcorn. And to my surprise they even had an adorable kitchen towel that included a recipe on it for Old Fashioned Caramel Popcorn. Of course I bought it and the rest is history, well sort of. I did modify the recipe a bit and added my own favorites for a chocolatey twist, of course!
Caramel Popcorn – two ways!
(Recipe adapted from the Raley’s kitchen towel)
4-5 quarts of freshly popped popcorn
¾ cup butter
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Note: If you want to try the chocolate decadent version to your completed caramel popcorn you will also need: ½ cup melted milk chocolate chips, ¼ cup chopped Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Pieces, ¼ cup chopped Mars Milky Way candy bars.
Heat your oven to 250 degrees. Make your popcorn and put into a very large bowl that has room enough for mixing and set aside.
In a medium saucepan mix together butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, ensuring butter is melted thoroughly, and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and immediately stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.
Pour caramel slowly over popcorn and gently stir to coat. Please note that you may need a helper here – as it can get awkward trying to do this yourself. I actually poured the caramel as my son stirred for me. Make sure after you pour all the caramel on the popcorn that you give it one more gentle stir to ensure you get all that hot gooey caramel throughout your popcorn.
Place popcorn onto two large rimmed baking sheets (you can also use two large rectangular glass bakers). I would highly recommend spraying your baking sheets/bakers with cooking spray (such as Pam) in advance to prevent sticking (I did not do this and once I took mine out of the oven, the caramel popcorn began to quickly harden on the sheet). Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 12 minutes or so. Remove from oven and immediately place caramel popcorn on two large pieces of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and let cool completely. When completely cool, gently break popcorn into pieces and enjoy or continue reading for the chocolate version!
If you have chocolate lovers in your home, you’ve got to try this version. Keep about one-quarter of your cooled caramel popcorn on the aluminum foil, place the chopped chocolate pieces and bar bits over the popcorn and then drizzle with the melted chocolate. Let chocolate harden before gently breaking into pieces.
My family could barely wait for me to get this amazing concoction cooled down and ready for consumption. As a matter of fact, they opted for the “plain” version and said it was much better than any caramel popcorn they have ever had! Me on the other hand, well, I waited patiently for the chocolate version. Delish!