I seem to have this penchant for making things that are truly addictive. That once-you-pop-you-can't-stop kind of addicting. Brownies, cookies...basically anything with sugar. And now I bring you your next addiction: Homemade. Caramel. Corn. Holy cow, is this stuff so good. And I dare you to make a batch last longer than the weekend. Seriously.
So this recipe has been with me for nearly twenty years...I first made it my middle-school home economics class! The fun thing with this recipe, is that start-to-finish, it's made completely in the microwave. No heating up your oven, no fancy equipment, if you've got a bowl, a microwave and a paper bag, you can make this recipe!
There are three microwave phases for this recipe: the popcorn phase, the caramel phase and the caramel corn phase.
PHASE ONE: Start off by popping 3 standard bags of microwave popcorn. I use the 94% fat-free, low-butter variety, because, believe me, you'll be adding more than enough butter once the caramel sauce is covering each and every kernel. Then take a standard, grocery-store size paper bag and spray the inside of it about 2/3 of the way up with non-stick spray. As you pop your popcorn, dump each bag into the paper bag.
PHASE TWO: In a large, microwave-safe glass bowl, add brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 8 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave and stir. Add baking soda, baking powder and vanilla and stir. When you add the vanilla, it will start to change the color and consistency (it will get frothy and may rise a bit). Keep stirring until the mixture is uniform. It should be a light, golden brown.
PHASE THREE: Carefully pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn in the paper bag. With a long rubber spatula, mix the caramel and popcorn until all kernels are covered. Roll up the top of the bag and put the whole thing in the microwave. You may have to smoosh it in there to make sure that the turntable will still rotate. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Open the bag and mix with the rubber spatula for about 30 seconds, making sure to scrape the bottom. Roll the bag and return to the microwave for another minute. Mix for about 30 seconds and microwave for a last burst of 30 seconds. Either line two jelly roll pans or your countertop with wax paper and carefully pour the caramel corn on top. Spread out in an even layer and separate the pieces as it cools. Once the corn is finally cool, break up any large chunks and store in an air-tight container. It will keep pretty fresh for about a week - that is, if it makes it that long!
Microwave Caramel Corn
- 3 standard bags of microwave popcorn, popped
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup butter (or margarine)
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
Pop the popcorn and put into a large brown paper bag, sprayed with non-stick spray on all sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, place the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 8 minutes or until the brown sugar is dissolved and the mixture is at a rapid boil.
Remove from microwave and add baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Be aware that mixture may rise. Carefully pour the caramel over the popcorn in the bag and thoroughly stir until all the popcorn is coated in caramel. Roll up the bag and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir the popcorn for 30 seconds. Return to microwave for 1 minute. Stir the popcorn for 30 seconds. Return to microwave for 30 seconds. Stir one last time and let the popcorn cool on wax paper covered pans or countertop. Once cooled, break up any large pieces and store in air-tight container.