Caramel Corn

The Covered Dish


It’s the perfect time of year to make a batch of homemade caramel corn. Maybe even a double batch for the freezer. Surprisingly many people have no idea what caramel corn is or how to make it. Cracker Jacks is the closest many have come to caramel corn. I grew up with a grandmother who made caramel corn and popcorn balls. I was fortunate, many are missing these special treats of days gone past. Time to welcome them back into our families.

You will notice from the recipe below that I am using English Toffee syrup. If you cannot access flavored syrups then go back to a teaspoon of vanilla or maybe even butter rum extract. Start with one teaspoon and then temper the amount from there. One of my friends had an interesting idea. She suggested using Kool-Aid for the flavor giving the options of more bright colors. Remember if you try this you will need to use the packets that have no sugar or imitation sugar included in the packet. And you may need to change from brown sugar back to white sugar. On the corn syrup I have been using the ‘light corn syrup’ with no problems whatsoever.

When it’s time to bake the corn here are a few suggestions. Consider using a 13 quart metal bowl for stirring the sauce into the popcorn. If you are lucky this bowl will fit in your oven and you can just stir the corn in one dish. In my work kitchen this doesn’t work so we divide the popcorn between two roaster pans which makes it much easier to stir every 15 minutes. Carmel corn has to be baked to dry the corn out otherwise it is extremely chewy.

Use a hot-air popcorn popper for this project, microwave popcorn just doesn’t work. However, I’ve had folks tell me just this past week that you can put 1/8th of a cup of popcorn kernels inside a brown bag lunch sack. Fold the open end over a couple of times and cook it in your microwave using the popcorn button. I haven’t tried this but I’ve been told about it by so many people, it has to work!

Wouldn’t it be fun to fill a tin with your own caramel corn and cinnamon corn? Carmel corn, like kettle corn can go in the deep freeze, I just wouldn’t leave it for a long period of time.

This will be one time when I tell readers to NOT use parchment paper while baking the caramel corn. It just doesn’t work, and to be honest your pans don’t get all that sticky during the baking.

Let’s discuss the final step in making the caramel corn sauce. The baking soda needs to come into the recipe just after you have removed the sauce from the heat. You will notice the sauce gets lighter in color and it foams up a bit. As soon as this happens pour it over the popcorn. The baking soda actually helps aerate the sauce.

I think I’ve given you enough tips and suggestions to make your next caramel corn a total success I’m sure you’ll enjoy setting it out in bowls this fall when it’s time for tailgaters and football games. Perhaps you should do a practice run first. It’s really not hard and it’s usually enjoyed by all ages.

Have an outstanding week everyone. Simply yours, The Covered Dish.

Caramel Corn
8 quarts of air popped popcorn (approx. 1 cup of kernels)
1 cup butter, (two sticks)
2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 tablespoon English Toffee Syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pop the popcorn and using two different bowls remove all unpopped kernels. In a saucepan place the butter, sugar, salt, karo syrup and English toffee syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil. Boil and stir for about five minutes, remove from heat and add the baking soda, stirring. As the sauce lightens and sorta’ foams up it’s time to start pouring it over the popcorn. Gently stir the popcorn to coat. Place in two roaster pans and bake in a 250 degree oven for one hour stirring the popcorn at 15 minute intervals. Cool to room temperature and bag.


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