corn is simple and simply delicious. Dark corn syrup and vanilla make
most traditional; using maple syrup and flavoring is a nice variation.
Adding just peanuts makes it “Cracker Jack.” Using other nuts, singly
or in combination, creates a more sophisticated version.
- 3-4 quarts freshly popped, unseasoned popcorn
- 3 c. roasted nuts: peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc., either singly or in combination, optional (Use the smaller amount – 3 qts. – of popcorn if adding nuts.)
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- 1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 c. dark corn syrup or
- maple syrup
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla or maple extract
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Spread the popcorn in a large shallow pan. Mix in the nuts if using. Spray a large cooking spoon or spatula with cooking spray, or rub it with softened butter and set aside.
In a large saucepan melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, syrup and salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly (with a spoon/spatula other than the sprayed one).
Reduce the heat to low and WITHOUT STIRRING, cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will foam up. When the foaming subsides, pour the mixture over the popcorn (and nuts) tossing with the sprayed spoon until everything is coated.
Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand just until it’s cool enough to handle, then break into pieces. Don’t let the caramel corn cool completely, or it will be difficult to get out of the pan.