I have loved caramel popcorn since I was little girl. I have plenty of fond memories of the popcorn we used be able to purchase in the mall growing up… those stands filled with countless types, flavours and colours (and of course amazing smells). Yum. But it was always the caramel popcorn that would win as my favourite, from those shops. In fact after finding out (by ultrasound) that our oldest would be a girl, my husband bought me a bucket of caramel popcorn, in a victory lap around the mall. And it’s a terrific memory – munching on caramel popcorn (gleeful I was going to have a little girl), sitting after hours in the food court, phoning loved ones with the great news!
So it only goes to reason, being the homemade gal I am, that I would have my own caramel popcorn recipe. And I do! Not just one, but two separate recipes for the occasions when one must have caramel popcorn in their lives.
Proper Caramel Popcorn:
This is the real deal. It takes a bit of time and commitment with the 10 to 12 minutes it takes to make the caramel, in which time you can’t take your eyes off of it. But the result is perfect, sweet caramel popcorn with just the right chewy/crunchy balance!
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
Air pop the popcorn into large bowl and set aside. Make sure you remove ALL the un-popped kernels (you do not want those coated in caramel and breaking your teeth)!!!
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or greased tinfoil.
In a medium to large heavy bottomed pot pour the water and then gently pour the sugar into a pile in the centre of the pot (away from the sides) – DO NOT STIR –
Cook on medium until syrup begins to turn golden. At which point you can start swirling the pan for even colour.
When caramel is deep, golden brown – add butter – and CAREFULLY whisk until smooth (it’s hot and will bubble up and can possibly splatter).
Remove from heat and carefully whisk in vanilla and baking soda. THE CARAMEL IS NOW AS HOT AS MOLTEN LAVA (give or take a few degrees).
Pour and toss caramel (‘lava’) over popcorn. Add salt if that’s your thing.
Spread popcorn out on lined cookie sheet to cool.
Note: Hot caramel is sticky, so it doesn’t just burn you – it sticks to you and and continues to burn you. There is no reason you should get burned making this recipe though, if you are aware and cautious! But definitely allow 5 minutes for the popcorn to cool before diving in. Once completely cooled store in an air tight container.
Microwave Caramel Popcorn Recipe:
Here is recipe for those that need caramel popcorn quickly and easily. Or for those that only have access to microwave popcorn (or are scared of molten caramel and/or lack caramel making patience). This style of caramel popcorn never hardens like most, and is very sweet, but you will wish I never shared how quickly and easily you can have ooey gooey caramel popcorn at your beck and call.
So sorry. Not sorry.
1 large bag of microwave popcorn -approx 8 cups popped- (my preference is the lower fat versions…)
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup corn syrup
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 Cup butter (4 Tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla
Pop popcorn according to the microwave directions, rid of any unpopped kernels (this is important for the sake of not cracking a tooth) pour into a large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine all remaining 5 ingredients together in large glass measuring cup or microwave proof bowl.
Microwave 1 minute and then stir. If the butter is not fully melted, microwave for another 20 seconds. Stir until smooth.
Pour over 8 cups popcorn (this works with air popped popcorn as well… obviously it’s just not as salty or rich, but still delish).
Inhale. Ahem – I mean share with your loved ones!!!!