Simple recipe for caramel corn welcome gift at Christmastime

Posted Dec. 05, 2008, at 5:10 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:53 a.m.

This caramel corn is the kind that Mrs. Claus makes to send out with Santa. It is the easiest caramel corn recipe I have used in a long time and comes from island neighbor Sarah Wilbur, who got it from her mom, Susie, whom many of us remember fondly.

Sarah made some for the annual Election Day Pre-School Bake Sale and I sampled some from Jamie’s bag then got one for myself. I thought: This is great stuff, and what a wonderful, easy-to-make Christmas candy.

The recipe is written for microwave popcorn, and since I don’t have a microwave yet, I researched the serving size on a package, which said it would make 4½ cups of popcorn. Two bags then would be 9 cups. But when I made my popcorn from scratch in the pot I usually use, 9 cups looked like a measly amount. So I went for 12.

The recipe makes a lot of caramel candy, and, to tell the truth I think you could cover up to 16 cups of popcorn very nicely. You decide. If you like it really slathered on, then stick to 10 cups. If you want the candy covering to go farther, add more popcorn.

I used corn syrup this time, not a favorite ingredient of mine, so the next time I make this I am going to give molasses a try because we like that nice, deep flavor.

I didn’t need a candy thermometer as long as I stuck to the instructions to boil five minutes. I set a timer for that because five minutes can whip by in a flash. (The older I get the faster it seems to whip, too.) And, yes, you get one heck of a sticky roasting pan. Fortunately, the baked-on sugar mixture soaks right off.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

Caramel Corn

Yields 4½ quarts from 12 cups of popped corn.

10-16 cups of popped corn or 2-4 bags of plain microwave popcorn

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Put popped corn in large roasting pan (greased if you like.) Melt butter and stir in the sugars and salt. Stirring constantly, bring this mixture to a boil, which happens quickly. Boil for five minutes without stirring, adjusting heat slightly downward to keep it from boiling over. After five minutes, remove from the heat, stir in soda and vanilla. The soda causes it to foam. Stir and dribble mixture over popcorn, stirring corn to coat with syrup.

Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, then let it cool, break it up, and store in lightly covered container.

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