Holiday Caramel Corn is the name I gave this recipe because it's a tad more buttery than my usual recipe. It's also a little heavier on the nuts. It calls for cashews, which I remember as being more expensive back in the day (the day, being the 1980s). Now the butter is the luxury item. Either way, this caramel corn is worth it.
Candy Thermometer for Caramel Corn
The recipe is based on one from a friend who cooks the sugar coating to soft crack stage. This makes the caramel corn a little crunchier and less sticky. It also means you need a candy thermometer or a deep fry thermometer, so be sure to have one handy. My favorite is the Taylor. At one point I bought a second thermometer just in case the first one breaks. Well, the first still has not broken, but I opened up the second one anyway and now have two almost indestructible and accurate deep fry candy thermometers.
My friend's version of the recipe uses a bit less popcorn so that there's a higher ratio of sauce to popcorn. I have a problem around caramel corn which is that I can't stop eating it, so I keep my version lighter by using more popcorn. If you want a richer snack use only 6 cups of popcorn and maybe increase those nuts. Or that's what the squirrel says to do. I guess it's not professional to have a picture of a squirrel on a caramel corn recipe, but I'm keeping it here anyway. This is a 78704 squirrel.
Here's a link to my "usual" less buttery caramel corn recipe.
Holiday Caramel Corn
- 8 cups regular or butter flavored popped microwave popcorn
- 1 stick 4 oz unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 ½ tablespoons corn syrup and ½ tablespoon molasses
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup cashews unsalted or lightly salted
- ½ cup walnuts or any other nut you like
- ⅓ cup peanuts optional
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Put the 8 cups of popcorn in a buttered roasting pan.
- Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar, salt, corn syrup and molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Insert a candy thermometer into pan (I use a deep fry thermometer that can be rested on its metal base) and boil mixture slowly on low heat, without stirring, until the temperature reaches the soft crack stage, about 285 degrees. Kristina mentioned this could take up to 45 minutes, but with a smaller batch I found it took much less time.
- When the thermometer hits 285, immediately remove from heat and stir in the soda and vanilla. Stir the mixture, then immediately pour evenly over the popped corn in the pan. Quickly mix to coat all the popcorn and spread evenly on pan. Bake for 15 minutes and stir well. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove pan from oven and stir in nuts, coating well. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes more, stirring every 10 minutes. Turn caramel corn out onto nonstick foil or parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer. Cool completely, then break apart into desired sized pieces. Keep stored in airtight bags or tins.