This old-fashioned popcorn candy is made with an easy homemade caramel sauce and baked in the oven for crunch. No thermometer needed!
I’m back from a few days’ vacation in the French Riviera, and honestly, I couldn’t be more relaxed. The beaches, the narrow rustic streets, the little boutique shops – it was truly paradise. Not to mention the unique kitchen props and vintage pieces I found (and bought, of course) in those little shops. See, I have way too many addictions. 😉
Now about this caramel popcorn, just like my Nutella pretzels and candied almonds, this stuff is dangerous and addictive. If I keep making these delicious treats, I won’t be able to have the balanced diet I’ve been trying to reach for the last few months (clearly with no success yet). The popcorn in this dessert is mixed with a delicious caramel sauce, then baked in the oven for crunchiness. It’s sweet, but not overly so like some other caramel corn I’ve tried before. Unfortunately, that’s no good news for you because it means you can easily find yourself eating an entire bowl without noticing. I did.
If you don’t have a popcorn maker, you can use 2 store-bought bags of microwave popcorn (natural taste with no added butter) or use this trick: put 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and fold the top twice to seal the bag tightly. Microwave on high for about 1 minute and 30-45 seconds. This method yields 5 cups, so you’ll need to do it twice for this recipe.
Once you have the popcorn, we prepare an easy-peasy homemade caramel sauce by heating together butter, brown sugar, and honey (and salt, if using). Usually, recipes for caramel corn will call for corn syrup, but since not all of you have this ingredient at home, I’ve found that replacing it with honey works just as well. If you do have corn syrup, you can replace the honey with it in equal amounts. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat until it’s bubbly and thick. Immediately after removing the pan from the heat, add vanilla extract and baking soda. The mixture will foam up due to the baking soda, so be careful.
Mix the popcorn with the caramel in a bowl until all pieces are evenly coated – the more care you take with this step, the more delicious each bite will be! So mix, mix, mix! Remember to do this gently, though, so the popcorn doesn’t break. At this point, the caramel corn will be chewy, so the next step is to put it in the oven (for crunchiness). Place it in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and bake.
The popcorn should be left in the oven for an hour at a low temperature. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes (2 times in total) to prevent burning. Most importantly, each time you stir, try to control yourself from nibbling because it smells so darn good!
- 10-12 cups air-popped popcorn*
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) butter
- 1 cup (200g / 7 oz.) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 200F/95C degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- Place popcorn in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, bring butter, sugar, honey, and salt to a boil. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add vanilla extract and baking soda (be careful, the mixture will foam) and stir. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss until evenly coated. Spread popcorn evenly over prepared baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes (twice total) to prevent burning. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once fully cooled, break up any popcorn that is stuck together (or, if preferred, break into clusters). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
*You can use 2 store-bought bags of microwave popcorn (natural taste with no added butter) or the following trick: put 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and fold the top twice to seal tightly. Microwave on high for about 1 minute and 30-45 seconds. This method yields 5 cups, so you’ll need to repeat it for this recipe.