Like Garrett’s popcorn, I went for a salty sweet mix with my popcorn, combining the cheese and carmel. Carmel corn turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than the cheese, but much tastier.
- 1 cup popping corn
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup (optional)
Again, a non-stick pan works best for making popcorn.
When the popping sound start to fade to approximately 5-10 seconds apart, pour the popcorn in a large paper bag and shake the bag around a bit to release any excess oil. I used the bags they give you at the grocery store.
Spread the popped popcorn out on either a roasting pan or 13″ x 9″ baking pan, basically something that has sides to hold everything in. Set this aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan (you’ll want a larger pan because the carmel foams up when it cooks) begin melting the butter. Stir in the salt, brown sugar, corn syrup, baking soda and maple syrup (use only real maple sugar, not Aunt Jemima’s). Keep stirring until everything is thoroughly combined, then place the candy thermometer on the side of the pan.
You want it sitting in the liquid without allowing it to touch the bottom. Let this heat, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 235 degrees Farenheit or the soft ball stage.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Farenheit.
Immediately pour your carmel sauce over the popcorn, attempting to cover it all (you will have a chance to cover everything as it cooks in the oven).
Place the popcorn in the oven for an hour, intermittently flipping over the popcorn with a spatula every 10-15 minutes until all of the remaining carmel sauce on the bottom of the pan is coating the popcorn. I took my spatula, scraped the bottom, then flipped the sticky mess of carmel back over the popcorn.
When the popcorn seems complete, immediately set the popcorn onto a cookie cooling rack, separating the large clumps as you go. If you wait too long, the carmel will start to harden, causing the popcorn to stick fast to your pan. If this happens, just toss the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes and try again.
If you are combining the cheese and carmel popcorn, toss them together in a large container or another paper bag and shake until they disperse evenly.
The carmel popcorn will last in your household for a week or two. It has a sticky quality, but melts in your mouth unlike the store-bought kind. The more carmel sauce the better, in my opinion, coat the pieces until they’re dripping. The best part of making it from scratch is, if you aren’t like me, and like your carmel sauce lightly sprinkled on top of the popcorn, you can create it to your preference.
Mixing both the carmel and cheese popcorn allowed for a salty sweet mix most people enjoy (think pretzel M & M’s or trail mix). The added cayenne really spiced up the mix, and was almost impossible to stop eating without having someone else pull the treat right out from your hands. I chose to mix the two together in the bag I mixed the cheese popcorn in, then some of the remaining seasoning stuck to the carmel. Delicious. It was also a great substitute to passing out cookies or chocolate for Christmas.