Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Home made "Cracker Jack" Popcorn

I LOVE caramel corn, buttered popcorn, my recipe for pumpkin spice popcorn, I just love popcorn. I found this recipe here and thought I would give it a shot. Wow!! It's way easy! I have another recipe for Fiddle Faddle popcorn but that one you have to use a candy thermometer and if you don't watch it close, the toffee coating can be too sticky or too hard, But this recipe doesn't have you do that! It's super easy and after you coat the popcorn and nuts you bake it in the oven. I tweaked it a bit and lowered the oven temp because I thought mine tasted a bit too done, but it's great. You know what I thought of doing for my neighbors this year for Christmas? Remember getting Cracker Jack caramel corn in the box? That's what this recipe reminds me of, but remember they had prizes in the box? I was thinking of getting cute little gift boxes for treats, putting in my Home Made Cracker Jack popcorn, and then going to those gumball / candy machines that are usually in the lobbies of stores, and getting silly little prizes and sticking in the box along with the popcorn, wouldn't that be fun for families with little kids???

Home made "Cracker Jack" Popcorn

*Note: you want about 18 cups of popped corn. I've found that about 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels yields about 5 1/2 to 6 cups popped corn. While the recipe calls for 3/4 cup unpopped kernels, be sure to only add it a bit at a time in shifts according to your popcorn popper so the kernels don't burn.
*Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn (that seems like a lot, but trust me, it goes fast!)

3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup (I didn't have dark Corn Syrup, so I used 1/4 cup molasses and 1/2 cup light corn syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dry roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn't burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful-it foams and rises a bit so use a deep saucepan!!!

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the peanuts and mix well but gently (so you don't break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I've found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

I am going to warn you... this is highly addicting, you can't eat just a little bit!

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