This Caramel Corn really needs a
warning label as eating one handful is just about impossible. It's made by
taking freshly popped corn and coating it with caramel.
It's wonderfully sweet with a delightful crunch. There is an ongoing debate
about whether you pronounce this delicious candy "car-muhl" or "cara-mel",
but I'll leave that up to you to decide. But what I will say is that you may want to make several batches as
your friends and family would appreciate a bag or two.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making Caramel Corn. For
one thing, like all candy, it should never be made on a humid day, unless you have
adequate air conditioning. Use a heavy bottomed saucepan so the caramel will not scorch under high temperatures. Be
sure to use
a wooden spoon to stir the syrup as the sugar crystals will not stick to wood as
easily as they will to metal. And buy
a good digital or mercury candy thermometer with a metal clip so you can fasten it to the
side of the pan. When using a mercury candy thermometer make sure the bulb of the
thermometer does not rest on the bottom of the pan as this can cause an
temperature reading. It is also important to read the temperature at
eye level and you may have to wipe the steam off the thermometer first in order
to read the numbers. Another thing about mercury candy
thermometers are that they are fragile so after each use place in hot water (not
cold) to dissolve the sugar coating. Never place a hot thermometer into cold
water as this can cause it to break. And be
sure to store your thermometer away from other kitchen utensils so it won't
get banged around. Lastly, cleaning the saucepan can be a problem. The best way
to remove all that hard caramelized sugar is to fill the saucepan with water and
bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit until the sugar dissolves.
Before you begin making caramel corn, make sure you are
familiar with the recipe and have all your ingredients measured and within easy
reach. That means having the baking soda and salt at your side so when the
caramel reaches the hard crack stage (if placed in water you will have stiff,
firm threads) (300 degrees F) (149 degrees C) you can immediately stir these two
ingredients (salt adds flavor, baking soda aids browning and gives the caramel a
lighter texture) into the caramel. Be very careful as the caramel will foam up
when you stir in the baking soda. It is a good idea to have a bowl of ice water
nearby in case you accidentally burn yourself. Then pour the hot caramel over
the popped corn and toss, with two wooden spoons or forks, making sure all the
popped corn is coated with the caramel. The caramel corn will be in large clumps
so spread the caramel corn onto a large sheet of aluminum foil. Then, while the
caramel corn is still hot, separate it into bite-sized pieces, with two forks or
by wearing heatproof gloves. Cool completely and then the caramel corn can be
stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for at least a week.
Have ready a large baking sheet that has been lightly buttered or sprayed
with a non stick cooking spray.
Place the popped
corn in a large bowl that has been lightly buttered or sprayed with a non stick
In a large heavy
bottomed saucepan, stir together the sugars, corn syrup, water, and butter. Place the
saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the
mixture boils, cover, and boil for about one to two minutes. (This
allows steam to form which then condenses and washes off any sugar crystals that
have attached themselves to the sides of the saucepan.) Uncover the saucepan and
clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Boil the mixture over
medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage, 300 degrees F (149 degrees C). (Brush down the
sides of the pan, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm
water, to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the
Then remove the
saucepan from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. (The caramel will
foam up when you add the baking soda so be very careful.) Pour the caramel over
the popcorn and toss well to evenly coat all the popcorn (use two heatproof spatulas or wooden spoons
that have been lightly buttered or sprayed with a non stick spray). While the
popcorn is still warm, sprinkle with the salt. Spread the caramel popcorn onto
your baking sheet and separate into bite-sized pieces. Cool completely and then
store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to a week.
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