This is good stuff. And dangerous! I made a double batch last week, and just got around to taking the photos today. Good thing, too, or it would have been all gone! It's addictive. And in my opinion (my opinion. no hate letters about how your grandma's caramel corn was served to heads of state and therefore rules, please, lol) it's the perfect caramel corn. It's not too sticky or too sweet, and it's not soggy--the caramel coating dries to a nice finish so you don't feel like you're eating a mouthful of sticky taffy. Because who wants to have to give a chisel as a gift alongside their caramel corn? "Here, it's a little sticky, so here's a sharp object to remove it all when you're done eating it!" (How thoughtful, hehe.) I have to tell you, I've tried dozens of caramel corn recipes, and never get results like I do with this recipe. It never fails. Where did I get this recipe? In a magazine that my mom brought home years ago. It looked easy (and it is!) so I clipped it and kept it all this time.
And the best part? It's made right in the microwave! It couldn't get any easier, really. Pop some microwave popcorn, mix up a few other things in the microwave, stir in the popcorn, and you're basically done. A little drying time on the counter and that's it. Dig in!
Or...package it up in pretty little bags or boxes, add a ribbon, and give it to some lucky person. They'll think you slaved over a hot stove making caramel. Don't tell them how easy it was and they'll never know. Or you can attach the recipe so they can make it themselves.
The nuts in this are totally optional, but I really, really love them in my caramel corn. Use whatever kind you like. I usually use Spanish peanuts, but use what you've got. I've actually thought about making a batch without the popcorn--Just Nuts! (Think "Just Jack!") How good would that be?
I have made this so many times, I can't even count. And yes, it calls for corn syrup, which I know can be hard to find for many of you. So this time, I used Lyle's Golden Syrup to test it out. It worked perfectly!
Microwave Caramel Corn
1 (3.5 ounces) bag microwave popcorn or 2 quarts plain popped popcorn
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup, or Lyle's Golden Syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
peanuts, optional (or you can use a different type of nut if you prefer)
Prepare microwave popcorn as directed on bag.
Remove any unpopped kernels. (This step is really important, because a broken tooth is not a good gift.)
In 2 quart microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter on high until melted, about 1& 1/2 minutes.
Stir in sugar and corn syrup, and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes.
Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well blended.
Stir in popcorn, mixing well.
(It may be a bit tricky to mix the popcorn in at first, but the more you stir, the easier it gets. I like to add half, stir it to coat, than add the rest.) If you are using nuts, add them here too.
Microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to coat popcorn evenly.
***Watch it carefully--if you have a very powerful microwave, watch closely so it doesn't start to burn, and you may want to reduce the 2 minute intervals to 1 or 1 1/2 minutes.
Transfer caramel corn to tray lined with parchment paper.
Cool and break popcorn apart.
Store in airtight container.
Yield: 2 quarts
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Ready in: 18 minutes