Caramel Corn Recipe

Caramel Corn

I tried various recipes of for caramel corn, some came out too dark, some not dark enough. So I worked and worked, until I settled on this one.

Caramel Corn

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, or use any toasted nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or cashews.

Special equipment: a candy thermometer

Heat oil with 3 kernels in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, over moderate heat until 1 or 2 kernels pop. Remove lid and quickly add remaining kernels, then cook, covered, shaking pan frequently, until kernels stop popping (or until your shoulder gives out), about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover.

I ended up with 6 cups of popped popcorn.

(Premium American-brands of popcorn will yield more than mine did, about 8 cups of popcorn. If so, you may need to prepare 2 baking sheets in the next step.)

Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil and lightly oil foil, or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup, and salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 300 degrees F on thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir vanilla and baking soda into the syrup, then quickly stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture over baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible.

Let cool completely, then break into bits.

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8 comments

  • I giggled/am still giggling/ through this entire post! It is cruel to be laughing at your pain, I know, so let’s say….I’m laughing with you?!

    I too have a popcorn thing – your final product sounds great. Whenever I see Newman’s Own, Microwave popcorn in the stores I buy it. The torture of doing the popping on the stove-top proved to be too much. Cleaning up & recovery should never take longer than the cooking and eating combined, don’t you think?

  • “One cannot live on Laduree macarons and glace Berthillon alone…”

    Somehow it’s difficult for me to bring forth the required sympathy :-)

    Great take on a classic recipe! I may have to try this!

  • I am coming to Paris in November, I bring you some bags of popcorn for a chocolate tour!

  • By the way, I bought your cookbook “Room for Desseet” last week. Very nice!

  • I have a similar recipe that does not require a thermometer, you just cook the syrup and stuff ‘for a while”. Works for me- I mean, really, when was the last time I saw that thermometer?
    Oh- you’re right about French dentists- want details?
    And another thing- got a summer pudding at the downtown bakery today and it was/is soooooo tasty, but Ozzie said his passion fruit bavarian tasted like spit. Any comments?

  • As Alisa so blithly put it, the pleasure of cooking should outweigh any pain (although after living in San Francisco for 20 years, the co-mingling of pain & pleasure are a daily, and nightly, fact of life.)

    Jess-Yes, you don’t really need to use a thermometer, but when writing a recipe, if you say “cook over medium heat for 8 minutes”, sometimes my idea of ‘medium’ isn’t someone else’s and using a thermometer ensures results (but I give a cooking time just in case someone doesn’t want to bother listening to me, which I know seems hard to believe, but it’s true.) It seems most people have a candy thermometer crammed in the back of their drawer of rarely-used kitchen tools, along with the melon-baller.

    I would indeed question the use of spit in desserts. Once again, like using a thermometer, I like to ensure accurate results with readers of my cookbooks and it’s impossible to say that my notion of spit would be the same as someone elses.

    David

    PS: There’s a great, and very easy, recipe for Summer Pudding in my cookbook Room For Dessert….glad you’re enjoying your copy, Richard!

  • David, if I didn’t get excited by your original post, it’s because I have learned through sad experience that most of the “American” stuff sold over here is not as good (or at least the same) as the brands we have in the US. Like Alisa, I hold out for Newman’s or good old Orville Redenbocker. Also, over time I’ve gotten used to the taste of it made with sunflower oil instead of corn oil but again, it’s JUST NOT THE SAME.

    Still, I don’t turn it into as much of an adventure as you!

  • I must say, the best gift I ever got here in Italy is my hot air popcorn popper!
    I only use it once or twice a year.. but saves my shoulder.
    I will find my popcorn recipe for you..Love it!
    Just missing the prize!