Thursday, December 17, 2009

Caramel Corn. by violet

There’s a few food blogs that I trust inherently. Smitten Kitchen and Orangette. These are two blogs that have never steered me wrong. When they tell me something is awesome and, that, I simply must drop whatever my plans were for dinner and make something, I do.

So when Orangette said she had been coveting this recipe for years and that she had become addicted to it. And I wanted something tasty to take into the office for people for the holiday. I knew that I had to try it.

Caramel Corn
  • 1 (3½-ounce) package plain (unbuttered natural flavor) microwave popcorn, or about 10 cups fresh popcorn popped by any method, lightly salted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

If using microwave popcorn, pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.

I was a little confused by the ingredient list. Didn’t I need caramel to make caramel corn? Apparently not, apparently I was making my own. I also used stovetop popcorn because I love it and think it tastes way better.

As Molly suggested, I measured the vanilla and baking soda before I stared and chopped the peanuts too. It’s like she knew I’m one of those people who does the chopping and the measuring as I go – guilty.

I had never attempted anything that required a candy thermometer before. I don’t even have one – I had to fake it with a meat thermometer.

I was really concerned about how the caramel would come together – seriously uncharted territory. But I melted the butter and added everything together. Next thing you know – boom – caramel.

I thought it tasted delicious before I even put it in the oven for another hour (I was confused why it need another hour to cook but again, I’m trusted my guide). Pretty soon my house smelled like the best part of carnival.

The verdict: Amazing, as always. It’s crispy, crunchy, salty and, honestly some of the best caramel I’ve ever had.

So drop whatever you had planned and make this.  Trust me. 


  1. How fun! When I saw that recipe, I wanted to try it, too, but laziness won. If you ever need to borrow a candy thermometer, or any other obscure kitchen tool, let me know. Happy Holidays!!

  2. Definitely a keeper. Thank you, Violet, for the bag of sweet, sweet goodness. I think I might have to eat the whole bag before I leave today. I don't know if I can help it!