Monday, December 20, 2010

Caramel Joy

Definitely, a favorite part of the Christmas season is all the yummy baking that is involved. I enjoy giving friends and neighbors a sweet Christmas treat and letting them know how special they are to us!

For the past few years, I have made my mom's recipe for Caramel Corn to give my MOPS leadership team. And each time, it is a pretty big hit. As our last Christmas meeting approaches, I begin to get a few "hints" from the girls, making sure I remember how much they loved the popcorn the prior year. I don't blame them. It really is delicious!

And if you know me personally, or have been following this blog for a while, you know you can depend on me to present only the best and most efficient ideas for this type of Christmas gift-giving. Remember, I play Tetris in my head. There are countless options for treats and goodies. But the only ones I repeat are those that are totally worth the money, time, and effort. And this one certainly is.

So, this post is for my friend Joy who swears she can never make this stuff on her own.

Ingredients Needed:

3 bags of microwave popcorn (or 6 quarts of popped corn if you want to do it the old-fashioned way); 2 sticks butter; 2 cups brown sugar; 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo); baking soda; salt; vanilla

Nothing unusual. You can find it all at Walmart.

Step 1: Pop your 3 bags of microwave popcorn and pour into a big roasting pan (or other oven-proof container). Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Step 2: In medium saucepan, melt 2 sticks of butter over medium heat. Add 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo), and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue stirring until all ingredients are mixed together (you can't see any separated butter). Keep stirring as you bring mixture to a boil. Stop stirring and let it boil untouched for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla. This will cause the mixture to bubble a bit. Stir until it is all combined and turns into a light brown caramel.

Step 4: Pour caramel over popcorn evenly. It is easiest to pour it in batches and then stir the popcorn so you can coat all the kernels. (Don't worry if it doesn't look like it is all coated. The caramel will continue to spread as you bake it.)

You could also add 1 cup of peanuts to the popcorn before pouring on the caramel if you wish.

Step 5: Put pan into oven for 1 hour -- remove it at every 15-minute interval and stir the popcorn so the caramel can spread out over all the popcorn.

Step 6: After 1 hour, remove pan and pour popcorn onto parchment or wax paper, breaking up larger chunks. Cool and store in air-tight containers.

See. Simple and delicious. Most everyone loves it, and anyone can make it. (Yes, even you, Joy !)

What are your favorite things to bake during the Christmas season?

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The Curly Redhead said...

I love to watch the kids decorate gluten-free gingerbread cookies - in all their gloopy glorious glee. And to give, I like to make variations on an oatmeal cookie - little bit chewy, little bit crunchy. Look for a plate in your mailbox soon!

Care said...

I just made that last week!! We're loving peppermint bark this year. And these really yummy pretzel, Rolo, M&M thingies. SO GOOD. And I'm SO FAT.:)

Anonymous said...

Ok first of all thanks for the pictures and step by step illustrations... I will promise to give this a try! =)
Today I did melt white chocolate and made the chex/cereal mix. That is always a big hit too! Thanks again! XOXOXOXO

Anonymous said...

Yum!!! This is so good and so bad all at the same time :) Thanks for sharing the recipe. Back in Canada there was a teacher at the Christian school I taught at who made caramel popcorn every year. We had an auction to fundraise for the school and those gallon bags of popcorn went for $200 several times.

The Christmas cookie that has been our staple this year is a cross between a peanut butter cookie and a soft ginger cookie, the best of both worlds :) Merry Christmas!