I don't know about you, but as a kid I have a memory of those big tin buckets filled with three different kinds of popcorn- cheesy popcorn, butter & salt popcorn and crunchy carmel popcorn. Let's admit it no one really enjoys cheese popcorn, we all love butter popcorn but hands down the best popcorn is carmel.
I have to admit I am a crunchy popcorn lover. #1 reason, my hands stay clean. I guess having little kids my hands are always sticky because of them, so I'd rather enjoy a treat with out having to lick of my fingers. #2 reason, it's totally kid friendly! No messy sticky hands for them either. I have to admit I even let them eat this on the couch...I'm serious, it's that kid friendly! So if you are going to be sitting around this weekend and you need something sweet and salty to munch on this recipe is for you!
Printer Friendly Recipe
Crunchy Carmel Popcorn
8 cups popped popcorn
1 lb. brown sugar (about 2 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
2 sticks butter, unsalted (*Or if you use salted butter just decrease your salt amount to 1/2 tsp.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
In a heavy sauce pan, bring brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses and butter to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes or until 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. (I've never used the candy thermometer, I just set a timer once it starts boiling for 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir. Then add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda - STIR QUICKLY. Pour over 8 cups popped popcorn. (*Make sure you have removed all unpopped kernels, you won't want to crunch down on one of those - I promise!) Mix lightly, place popcorn spread out on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil. I use two cookie sheets. Place in oven at 225 degrees and bake for 1 hour + 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Once you have removed it from the oven, continue to stir gently as it cools. Once it has sat for about 5 minutes stir again. This is when you will have individual crunchy carmel kernels.
*I have tried skipping the 1 hour cooking and the popcorn still tastes great, but it hardens in a giant ball. So the baking at a low temperature and stirring helps keep the popcorn loose and in individual pieces. Enjoy!