Whether you need a late night snack, extra tidbits for a party spread, or some munchies for your movie night―a bowl of crispy and yummy caramel popcorn is what you are looking for. A simple coating of butter, brown sugar, and vanilla, can turn plain, boring popcorn into a tasty treat. With holidays and festivals around the corner, if you are planning to do something different this time, homemade caramel popcorn can be a delectable treat for your friends and family. Making it at home may sound like an intimidating task for many people, however, the following recipe will not only make this task easy for you, but enjoyable, too.
Making Caramel Popcorn
- Small stock pot
- Wooden spoon
- Silicone spatula
- Candy thermometer
- Cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper
- Measuring cups
- A large bowl
- 2 small bowls
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 packet light microwave popcorn
Take the stock pot and add the brown sugar, butter, and light corn syrup, to it. Heat it over medium heat and stir continuously with the wooden spoon, until the mixture comes to a boil. Insert the candy thermometer to check if the mixture has reached hard-ball stage, that is, when the thermometer shows a reading of 250 °F. In case you don't have a candy thermometer, drop a bit of the sugar mixture into a cup of cold water. If the caramel instantly hardens, it has probably reached the desired temperature. But if it still feels soft when you take it out from the water, you need to boil the mixture a bit more.
Now, as soon as the caramel comes to a boil and reaches the hard-ball stage, turn off the heat. While stirring constantly, add the vanilla extract to it, carefully; stand back to avoid injury. When the mixture settles down, add the baking soda. Stir the mixture continuously to stop it from foaming and rising. Then, add the popcorn to the pot and mix it up, until each kernel is coated with the hot caramel mixture. Stir briskly or it will become difficult to coat the kernels if the mixture cools down.
Next, spoon the popcorn onto the prepared cookie sheet. With the help of the spatula, spread it evenly over the surface. Now, place the cookie sheet in a 250 °F preheated oven for 30 minutes or so. Move the popcorn around after every 10 minutes, using the spatula. This will prevent the popcorn from drying out, and at the same time, will also avoid it from sticking to one other. Once it's done, allow it to cool down. To maintain its freshness and crispness, store the caramel popcorn in an airtight container.
This was just a basic recipe for how to prepare caramel popcorn at home. You can also add more flavors to it by experimenting with a variety of ingredients like, chocolate, nuts, and dry fruits.