We've been making this forever (forever is a long time), and it's one of those recipes from a grandma.
A grandma who seemed to have had quite a way with confections...
So, it's been around a while and we have no idea where it came from.
The only thing I did to this recipe was to increase the amount of caramel a bit.
Caramel has a way of bringing wayward pieces of popcorn together. How nice.
I was one of the kids who would look (not paw through, but shake the bowl around and look) for the most caramel-coated pieces and stuck-together chunks of popcorn (most probably to the disappointment of others).
See, at our house, we were (and are) not to choose in this manner. You take what you get.
In other matters it's known as "luck of the draw."
I've always liked caramel, and those were just the best pieces!
Caramel was my thing. If we had ice cream, I would always choose the caramel sauce over the chocolate sauce.
If you've got an air popper and popcorn kernels laying around, great. It makes things fairly easy.
If not, and you've never made plain popcorn from loose kernels, you can find a technique or five here. Whether in a brown paper bag or on the stovetop, you can still make popcorn- just don't add butter or salt for this recipe.
The easiest way to deal with sticky syrups such as maple, corn, molasses and such, is to grease or spray the measuring cup prior to measuring the liquid. This way it should just slide out of the cup without leaving a difficult to manage mess.
Finished caramel can also be a mess, but it's good to remember that hot water will help to melt it!
The "approved" way of cooling the caramel corn is cutting open a large brown paper bag so it lays flat and pouring the finished corn from the sheet pan onto the paper. The bag helps to soak up any excess oils and the caramel corn doesn't stick!
4 heaping qt. (16+ c) freshly popped popcorn (kept warm if possible)
10 T unsalted butter
1/2 t (slightly heaping) salt
1 1/4 packed brown sugar
1/3 c corn syrup
1/2 t (slightly heaping) baking soda
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Place equal amounts of popcorn in two large bowls.
In a medium saucepan, combing the butter, sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to bubble. Add the baking soda and stir until it is incorporated and the mixture begins to foam.
Pour the warm caramel evenly over the two bowls of popcorn and quickly toss/fold until all the pieces of popcorn are coated.
Place the popcorn on two baking sheets with sides and bake approximately 1 hour- stirring every 15 minutes. Rotate the pans from to to bottom halfway through the baking process.
Let the caramel corn cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to help it cool evenly.
Store in an airtight container.