Caramel Popcorn

Ever get one of those giant tins that are filled with popcorn, usually butter, cheese, and caramel? How about a box of Cracker Jacks or Fiddle Faddle? Does anybody else find them…blah? If you are not a fan of caramel popcorn, I promise this will change your mind. I already made this recipe twice plus a coworker made some for me :D

One of my obsessions lately is buying treat boxes and bags to give to people. Look at these cute love bird bags. Wouldn’t you be excited if you received one of these? I wanted to make a few lucky coworkers something special for Valentine’s Day, but what to make? Obviously not a cupcake. I saw a recipe on Pinterest where you coat popcorn in chocolate and sprinkles then throw in some marshmallows and MnMs. Problem is one coworker is not a huge fan of chocolate. Then as I was browsing my Baked Explorations book (ps go buy it now), I saw a recipe for Caramel Popcorn. My coworkers love caramel and you can leave out the chocolate, so here was my answer.

I don’t eat caramel popcorn, but a good baker always tastes, right? I snuck in a bite. And another. And another. Uh oh, I hope I have enough! When did caramel popcorn taste so good?

The original recipe has chocolate drizzled on it as well. As tempting as this is, I was too tired to temper chocolate for the first time. Although it would make a good addition, you wouldn’t miss it either.

If you use microwave popcorn, make sure it is plain and not buttered. I found hulless popcorn kernels but didn’t realize how tiny they would be. Dad made fun of it and said to use bigger popcorn next time. Well at least you aren’t choking on a kernel for the next hour, right?

Please be really careful when making caramel. It boils hotter than water and sticks longer to your skin. Always have a clear path to a sink with cold water ready.

Caramel Popcorn
Serves: 12 cups
  • 1/2 cup unpopped kernels (or 12 cups popped corn)
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup salted peanuts, shelled
  1. To make popcorn on the stove: Find a pot with a wide bottom and a lid. You want to make sure your kernels have enough room and aren’t sitting on top of each other. If you feel they will be too crowded, make it in batches. Pour in enough oil to fill the entire bottom. Add your kernels and shake until they are coated. If your kernels don’t move easily when the pan is shaken, you may need to add a little more oil (don’t use too much though!). Turn the heat on. Shake the pan every so often so the kernels move around a bit. After what seems like forever, a kernel should pop. Once that happens, add your lid because they will fly everywhere. Once the noise dies down, remove the pan from the heat. Pour into a giant bowl and let cool for a bit. Now sift through the kernels. I literally took a handful, took out any unpopped kernels, burnt pieces, etc. and placed the good stuff in a 13×9 pan (which is what you bake the popcorn in). Although this may seem tedious, you will regret it later because the caramel popcorn clumps together. Imagine eating a nice chunk of popcorn, just to find an unpopped kernel mixed in.
  2. Preheat oven to 250F. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add sugar, corn syrup, and molasses; stir gently to mix. Stir occasionally until it starts to boil. Bring the mixture to 240F (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can use the soft-ball stage test). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Pour caramel over the popcorn and fold until all of the popcorn is coated.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the popcorn then bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Source: Baked Explorations

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