This post is in honor of October being National Caramel Month & National Popcorn Poppin Month.
1 1/2 c salted butter
3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
5 quarts popped popcorn (22 cups from about 1 1/2 cups unpopped kernels)
Pop popcorn in small batches, making sure to sift out the unpopped kernels. Pour popcorn into a large oven safe bowl or big pan that has been oiled lightly.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large pot melt butter. Add sugar, syrup & salt. Bring to a boil stirring to keep anything from burning on the bottom. Once boiling let boil five minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. The mixture then will froth up, so this is why you use a bigger pot than you might think you need. Stir until soda and vanilla is mixed in and then pour evenly over the big pan of popcorn and gently toss the popcorn like you would a salad until most of the popcorn is covered. Don't get too rough or you just end up with crumbles.
Put pan into the heated oven and every 20 minutes pull out and stir the popcorn again. The slow heat keeps the caramel from hardening, gets the excess moisture out, and makes for a perfect glaze when finished. After two hours of this, take out caramel corn and let cool. And be sure to try a little bit still warm. It's so very good.
Once very cool you can store it in any airtight container or ziplock bags.
Options: Want nuts? Stir two or three cups of peanuts or whatever mix of nuts you like into to the caramel just before you're pouring it over the popcorn. There's plenty of caramel in the recipe to allow for the addition.
Makes a nice big amount that you can give out as hostess gifts this season, or take a big bowl to a potluck style party or sports party. It goes over very well and it is quite affordable to make (unless you add very expensive nuts). alida saxton