In college, I went through a kick of snacking on popcorn like crazy. I went out and bought an air-popper with the little amount of money that I had (poor college student days) and a bag of kernels and went nuts. Back then, I was content with a little butter and salt.
No more, my friends. No more. I’m a little classier with my popcorn tastes now.
I couldn’t decide between making caramel corn or kettlecorn (because both are sooo dang good!) so… I just combined them and made caramel kettlecorn. And… 6 hours later, it was ALL gone. Of course I shared.. A little.
I won’t lie, the caramel making part is a little complicated- you have to pay pretty close attention. It’s all totally worth it though- in fact, you’ll feel somewhat like a boss after you master caramel making! I know I did!
You’ll definitely get some sugar crusting around the edge of your pan- and you’ll think “Holy mackerel, this is going to be SO hard to clean…” then you’ll remember that sugar dissolves like *that* when you run hot water over it. And you’ll be SO happy because that means there’s no reason you won’t make this caramel again. Right? Right.
(you’ll need an airpopper)
makes about 6 cups
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup canola oil
1-2 teaspoons salt, depending on how salty you like your life
This recipe requires that you work quickly and carefully. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. ok?
First, make the popcorn. Spray with cooking spray and salt well. Set popped popcorn aside.
Measure out the butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Set aside. In a medium saucepan add the sugar. Pour the water into the pan with the sugar, but pour the water towards the side of the pan… not directly on top of the sugar. Mark an X with your finger through the sugar and water.
Place saucepan over medium-high heat and let cook. Swirl the pan every few minutes Swirl, don’t stir. The sugar and water will cook down and bubble and slowly begin to caramelize. The process takes 20-30 minutes of cooking and swirling. Be patient but keep an eye on it. At the 20 minute mark, you’ll begin to smell caramelization. When the sugar reaches a caramel color, remove from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up. Give it a few good swirls.
Working quickly and carefully pour the hot caramel mixture over the popcorn. If any hot caramel gets on your skin, immediately immerse in the bowl of ice water. Ouch! With two spatulas stir until most of the popcorn is covered in hot caramel. Carefully pour out onto a silpat or foil lined sheet pan. Break up any large clumps with the spatula, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoon sea salt and let come to room temperature.