Caramel Corn

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recipe thursdayCaramel corn is an American autumn tradition and turned into popcorn balls, a classic Halloween treat from my childhood when neighbors could still be trusted not to poison us kids.

This is a particularly good recipe, creating buttery caramel that cools to an uneven but crispy coating on the popcorn. Making the caramel isn't too difficult, but you need to understand the stages of candy making. Alternately, you can use a candy thermometer, but that's not nearly as much fun.

This is not a quick recipe - making the caramel takes a good long half hour and lots of stirring. But it is entirely worth the time and effort.

Caramel Corn
makes 10 cups

10 cups freshly popped corn
1 cup peanuts (optional)
200 g (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Spread the popcorn and peanuts evenly on two non-stick baking trays. Keep warm in a 120°C/250°F oven.

Over medium heat, bring to a boil butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook to firm ball stage (245°F), stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add in the baking soda. The caramel will foam.

Drizzle caramel over the popcorn and peanuts, mixing to coat as evenly as possible. Return to oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes or so. Cool to room temperature to crisp the caramel. Store in an airtight container.

If you want to make popcorn balls, form the coated corn into fist-sized balls after removing the caramel corn from the oven. Be careful not to burn yourself. Cool them to set the shape and wrap in a twist of waxed paper.

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