I think if you had sugar radar, you would see our house light up like a beacon in the night. Because at this time of year, its what I dish out most. Monkey bread, toffee, cookies of course, brownies. This year the sugar high included, for the first time, caramel corn. I looked for recipes on line and in books, but ended up using my grandma Helen’s recipe, after giving my mother a call. Its light, crunchy and wonderful. I even added pecans, although I would like to try peanuts next time around. I have a bag here on the table waiting to give to my son-in-law, if my family can keep their hands out of it.
Which brings me to another thing. I have joined the ranks those giving of man-food gifts. What do you get a guy you are not sure what to shop for? Why food of course. What has my mom, aunt or sister been getting my husband for years? Food! Sausages, candy, cookies, gift cards to restaurants, etc. And here I go. Giving out various forms of sugar to family and friends, helping diminish their health in the name of Christmas. It may not be all I am giving, although this year especially has been heavy on the home made gifts. Lots of blankets, a couple aprons and… candy!
So in case you want to send your loved ones on a homemade sugar high, by covering healthy popcorn with caramel sauce that will have them sneaking it behind your backs and begging for more, here it is. For health reasons I don’t recommend it. Unless you love real caramel corn. Then you just have to try it. There is no comparison.
Baked Caramel Corn
- popped corn about 16-18 cups (air popped or pan popped, no butter please) Recipe calls for 6 quarts, which is 24 cups. I found that to be too much for the amount of caramel.
- 1 cup butter (2 cubes)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of corn syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- nuts, optional
Pop the popcorn and pour into 2 large baking pans. Mine were 9 x 13 pans, and keep warm in a 300 degree oven.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar, salt, corn syrup and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Once it is actually boiling, let it boil over medium heat for 5 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. It will bubble up like a witches brew so if you have kids around, make sure they are there to see it.
If using nuts, I suggest pouring them right into the sauce, since they tend to sink under the popcorn and not get incorporated into the bunch. Pour this over the popcorn, half in one pan, half in the other. Working quickly now, I used 2 wooden spatulas, sprayed with non-stick, and gently tossed the popcorn a bit.
Put the pans in the oven and bake for 1 hour, at 300 degree heat, taking out to stir every 15 minutes.
So really, set the timer for 15 minutes, take out of the oven, stir it up a bit and pop it back in, setting the timer for another 15 minutes. Do this until it has baked for 1 hour. Let it cool and it will get crunchy. You can try to give it as gifts, or give in to the inevitable and share with the family.
Next time I will try grandma Helens popcorn balls. Aunt Jo Ann says she used to love them best.
Merry Christmas to all and lets all diet after this!