Cracker Jack/Caramel Corn

I haven’t made caramel corn in years!

And when I went looking for my mom’s roasting pan, it was nowhere to be found. I hope I didn’t give it away in the basement clearance, but I’m afraid that I did. So I had to halve the recipe below to fit into the largest baking dish I have with a raised edge. And then I remembered the aluminum foil roaster I used when I made the two babkas. Unfortunately, it was the same size as the baking dish … just barely large enough to hold the halved batch of popcorn. Since I couldn’t STIR the popcorn every 15 minutes as the recipe requires, in order to dry out the popcorn and the caramel coating, I ended up transferring the popcorn between the two baking dishes.

Caramel Corn – makes ~16 cups popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups brown sugar, packed firmly
1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
1/2-1 tsp baking soda
2 cups unsalted, roasted and skinned peanuts (optional)

Spray a roaster with a capacity of about 20 cups with cooking spray or oil lightly.

Air pop the popcorn kernels and place them in the roaster. For the Cracker Jack version, stir the peanuts through the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt to a boil, stirring continuously for 5 minutes. It will foam up and bubble vigorously so make sure you have lots of head room.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.

Pour caramel over the popcorn trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. If you have an extra pair of hands helping, have the other person stir to distribute the caramel as you pour, while it is still hot and liquid. It will harden very quickly and be impossible to redistribute.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to break up the clumps, until done. Transfer to another container to cool.

Break apart any remaining clumps and store in an airtight container.

PS: Before I scrapped my sourdough starter, I took some pictures of the gluten strands in the glass jar. They looked very artistic, or is that artsy? What do they look like to you?

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