Caramel popcorn is an old school treat indeed. But is there a way to put a new twist on it? After all, the Damsel doesn’t scorn newfangled ways. That is not her objective. She loves it when she can put a new twist on an old trick. She thinks you’ll find this easy and a bit amazing. Plus, it’s a fun thing to do with kids.
You won’t need a pot. Just a paper grocery sack and a microwavable bowl. See? Toldja it was amazing. No candy thermometer required! For some reason, the Damsel harbors an unreasonable fear of candy thermometers.
Procure 4 quarts of popped popcorn.
You could air pop it, or do it old school on the stove as shown here. The Damsel doubts microwave popcorn would work very well because it already has gunk on it. Nice, plain, unadulterated popcorn is best.
Pour the popcorn into a regular brown paper grocery sack. Some people feel better about things if they spray the sack with Pam first, but the Damsel didn’t think it made much difference.
In a medium microwavable bowl:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cube butter or margarine (1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup karo syrup
Just put it all in the bowl. No need to even stir it at this point. Microwave for 2 minutes (tested on a fully armed microwave). Take it out–the stuff should look sort of excited…kind of foamy. Stir, mixing all the ingredients well. Microwave for one more minute. Once again, the mixture will be boiling big time.
Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Don’t skip this! Without it you’ll just have a mess. Stir well.
Pour the mixture over the popcorn in the paper sack. You will feel odd doing this, but persevere.
Roll the top of the sack down a time or two, and shake the bag to coat all the popcorn. The bag will get a bit damp in places. Try not to worry too much. Press forward.
Stick the whole bag into the microwave and nuke for 1 minute. Take the bag out, shake a few more times.
Put it back in the microwave for 1 final minute. Shake shake shake.
Now, things are pretty much done, but the caramel popcorn needs to harden and get crunchy. To help this along, the corn needs to be spread out. Some folks dump the corn out of the bag onto cookie sheets or wax paper. The Damsel, being naturally lazy, just cuts the paper bag so it can lay flat and spreads the corn out with a spoon. Careful! Hot sugar burns. You could even add peanuts at this point, and end up with something very like Cracker Jack.
After only a few minutes the caramel corn is ready for snarfing.