Buttery delicious caramel corn, it’s movie night so don’t be torn. It’s time for you to get on board, make sure to share and not to hoard. This wonderful treat will be gone by the morn, so make this yummy and delicious caramel corn. Ok, that was horrible and I promise never to attempt poetry again (that is a lie), or trying to be funny (lie), or trying to make some catchy intro (also a lie). I think maybe I’ve been reading too much Dr. Seuss with my 6 year old, at least that is my excuse and I am sticking with it. Anyway, I think we can all agree I have said enough so let’s get started making one of my families favourite treats, Caramel Corn.
Start by popping 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, I am lucky enough to have a popcorn machine (although I think it would like a cotton candy machine as a friend) so that will be my method. You can do whatever, although I think if you can, I would avoid microwave popcorn, as long as you end up with 4 cups of popped kernels.
Now that you have your popcorn, place it in a large metal bowl and sprinkle with salt. For this treat I like to use my special occasion salt, this isn’t for everything but on this popcorn I think the flavour the salt gives is worth it. I am using a coarse grey sea salt, but I think any sea salt or pink himalayan salt could be good. I am currently wondering when I became so into what different salts can add, but I think it started when I was living in BC, and I became introduced to Vancouver Island Salt Co (mindblown). Ok, back to the popcorn. I grind the salt down and then sprinkle it over the popcorn. Then set it to the side, while we make the caramel.
Add butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a saucepan and place over medium heat to let the butter melt down.
Once the butter is melted, continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just reaches a boil. Then turn the temperature down to medium-low heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
The mixture should look thicker and bubbly after 5 minutes, now you can remove it from the heat. Now add the vanilla and stir to combine.
After the vanilla is fully incorporated, it is time to add the baking soda. Just a note, use a larger pot than you think you will need. When you add the baking soda to the hot mixture it will really bubble up, it reminds me of the volcano experiment in science class. If you use a pot that isn’t big enough you will make a huge mess, possibly burn yourself, and then cry. Because after all that you won’t even get to eat caramel corn. Some may say that you would feel forlorn (right, I was going to stop doing that).
Once you’ve stirred in the baking soda, and the bubbling of the mixture has calmed down, pour the caramel sauce into the bowl with the salted popcorn.
Using a heatproof spatula, fold in the caramel sauce until all the kernels are evenly coated in goodness.
Now spread out the caramel corn onto a parchment lined sheet. Make sure you spread it out so that it is an even single layer of popcorn covering the sheet.
Place the caramel corn into a preheated 250 degree oven and bake for about an hour in total. Make sure that you take the caramel corn out to stir every 15 minutes, this helps it bake evenly. This also helps to make sure that you don’t have any wasted caramel on the parchment after and that it is all coating the popcorn.
After the popcorn has been baking for an hour, and been stirred 4 times, the caramel corn is done and should be removed from the oven. Notice how you can tell it’s done because all the caramel sauce has now baked on to the popcorn leaving none on the parchment paper. Place the tray on a wire rack to fully cool.
Once the caramel corn has completely cooled it should easily break into individual kernels when you transfer it into a bowl. If not, feel free to gently break any larger pieces up. That’s it, now you are ready for movie night too :).
1/4 cup canola oil (for popping the kernels)
2 teaspoons coarse grey sea salt, crushed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Start by popping the corn in the oil using a large pan, or if you have a popcorn machine, use that.
- Once popped set aside in a large metal bowl and sprinkle with the crushed sea salt.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line a large cookie tray with parchment paper, and set off to the side.
- In a large saucepan, add the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter.
- Place the pan on a burner over medium heat, and allow the butter to fully melt.
- Once the butter is fully incorporated, continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a boil.
- When the mixture reaches a boil, turn the temperature down to medium low and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. The mixture should look thicker, bubbly, and slightly darker than when you started.
- After the 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla, stir to fully combine.
- Now add the baking soda and let the mixture bubble up, when the bubbling slows, stir to make sure it is all fully combined.
- Pour the caramel sauce over the bowl of salted popcorn, and using a heat proof spatula, fold the sauce over the popcorn until it is evenly coated.
- Spread the caramel corn onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
- Place the tray in the 250 degree preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour total. Make sure to stir the caramel corn every 15 minutes while it’s cooking, so four stirs in total. Also if it looks like it may be browning too quickly on top place a sheet of aluminum foil over the tray to finish baking time (I rarely need to do this but every oven is different)
- Once the caramel has completely enrobed the popcorn and it’s baked for the hour, remove from the oven to cool completely, placing the tray on a wire rack.
- When the popcorn has cooled completely, place it in a bowl gently breaking up any larger pieces that may hold together.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if it lasts that long!