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Monday, October 20, 2008

Holiday Baking, Week 3: Caramel Corn

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

Microwave Caramel Corn

This is good stuff. And dangerous! I made a double ...

See Microwave Caramel Corn on Key Ingredient.

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Pam said...

Oh my. Can I please have a bag? This is a great idea for Christmas goodies. Looking forward to trying this recipe Elle.

VeggieGirl said...

DANGEROUSLY delicious ;0)

Michele said...

I am so making this for the weekend. I always make a huge mess when I make caramel corn the traditional way. Microwave means no mess! I'll let you know how it turns out. :-)

RecipeGirl said...

That looks like some seriously addicting stuff. Microwave too? Wow, that's a bonus!

Lisa said...


Deborah said...

this sounds a lot like the recipe I usually use, but I made a different version last week that I really liked too. I'm a caramel corn addict!

Bob said...

Mmmmm, caramel corn. I haven't had it in ages, I'm going to have to make this.

Sharon said...

I LOVE caramel corn but thought it was always too difficult to make. I had no idea it could be this easy...thanks!

By the way, we received the Hola Fruta. Talk about good stuff. Thanks again :)

Passionate About Baking said...

Oooooooh sensational. When we were young, the nuns in our school used to make this & sell it in bags in the tuck shop...along with sticky taffy & mint sticks.YUM YUM! Just thinking what would be a good corn syrup substitute? Do you think honey would work?

Elle said...

Deeba, if you can't find golden syrup either, food has this info:

Substitutes: golden syrup (Substitute measure for measure) OR honey (This is sweeter than corn syrup, but substitute it measure for measure.) OR molasses (Substitute measure for measure.)

I have never tried it with anything other than corn syrup or golden syrup, so I can't give you first hand info on how these substitutes would work. I did, however, once make a different caramel corn recipe with molasses a few years back, and it was very sticky. Hope this helps some!

Karen said...

Hi Elle,
I've been reading your blog for a few months, really enjoying it. After months of lurking on Tastespotting, I started my own blog last week. It's so exciting and so much fun. I loved the double choc. zucchini bread - have several in the freezer and I will definitely make this popcorn for our Halloween party next week. Thanks!

Adam said...

Hahaha... Just Nuts! Hilarious.

I love any popcorn recipe that uses the microwave, it's just so much easier. Great idea! And I love how you said this is the best recipe out of DOZENS! I trust you, so I'm giving this a shot :)

Dawn said...

Can I give you a high five for not being stingy with the nuts? I mean I hate when there is caramel corn and like 5 friggin nuts for the whole bag! Whats up with that?
This is perfect my dear.

Elle said...

Dawn, it's not even worth adding nuts if you're stingy with them, hehe. I use at least 1 cup per batch.

Adam, yes--dozens. Maybe even hundreds! ;)

Karen, thanks for reading! it means so much to me!

Sharon, the only tricky part of this is stirring the popcorn in for the first time. It doesn't seem like there will be enough caramel to coat, but keep going--there is.

Bob--Now you can have it as often as you like. ;)

Deborah, I'm an addict, too. If I had it on hand all the time, I'd be eating it.

Lisa, thanks!

Recipegirl, it really is addicting.

Michele, please do let me know!

VG, oh, yeeeeah. Dangerous, it's true.

Pam, yes, of course you can!

Erin said...

I have such a weakness for caramel popcorn. I am so excited that you can make this in a microwave! I love it when snacks are made for lazy people ;)

Grace said...

microwave popcorn never had it so good. :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I've tried lots of different recipes, so it's nice to know you think this one is a winner. I never would have thought to add baking soda! My only fear about making a batch is that I'll eat it all. Seriously. It looks outrageously good.

Kevin said...

Making your own caramel corn is a good idea. It looks great!

Bunny said...

Elle I've made a carmel corn in the oven that you have to stir every 15 mins, everybody's probably made that one. But this looks even better ...and easier!!

Mrs Erg├╝l said...

Ain't it perfect for feeding a crowd?! Quick, easy, tasty. No one can ask for more!

rubybean77 said...

That is so easy! Dang! I'm afraid I am going to make this every weekend!

noble pig said...

Score, what a recipe, in the micro? Awesome Elle.

canarygirl said...

OMG YUM! But my grandma's is better. She served it to somebody super famous. lmfao (so totally kidding!) I want to make this!! Great recipe, Elle!

Cris said...

I wish I had seen this last week when my kids were on Spring break! :-) This looks so good Elle!

MaryBeth said...

I make a real good homemade caramel corn, but I have never seen a microwave version. Yours looks just as good and is certainly much faster. I will have to give it a try.

Michelle said...

Awesome! I always enjoy a box of caramel corn as an occasional treat. All the males in my house have a sweet tooth, so goodies like that don't last long. This sounds easy and fast enough that I can just whip up more if they eat it before I get any! :-)

PaniniKathy said...

I'd forgotten how much I love caramel corn - one of those things I can't stop eating once I start. And I'm with you about the peanuts - bring 'em on! :-)

Ramya said...

Thanks Elle for the Hard Working Food Bloggers award! I'm really happy to pass this on to all on behalf of u and me.

Ramya's Kitchen Corner

Ingrid said...

I'm so excited! I've been saying for a month or so that I am going to make "specialty" popcorn and package it to give as gifts for teachers and such. Thanks for the recipe! I can't wait to test it out, you know to make sure it's tasty enough! LOL!

Elle said...


SouthPacificBody said...

I love your food, becaue nothing is difficult, but it's all good! I'm making this for sure this weekend AND next ! Too easy! THanks!

Doreen said...

What a great recipe..and so wonderful for the holidays. Thank you :)


ps...i'm adding you to my blogs I follow so I will not miss a single recipe.

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