Crunchy Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Fall snacking is an event. Shamelessly vain and equally gluttonous, I drop a few pounds before the fall and holiday seasons hit simply so I can overindulge in everything pumpkin, autumnal, spicy, caramel-coated and autumnal in flavor. Of course, caramel popcorn included. 

I made this addictive and ultra crunchy caramel popcorn for my best friend’s wedding favors (the dreamy nuptials in Grand Lake, Colorado). My friends helped me bag them late into the night and my husband strategically scattered across the gorgeous rustic barn tables for guests to enjoy; to my relief, they were a hit. For the gorgeous mother-of-the-bride who took three bags home and who I’ve adoringly dubbed my soul mama for nearly 20 years (where has time gone?), this recipe is for you. Food has a way to weave itself into our memories, and I hope this is an easy and sweet route to that magical day. 

In addition to bagging up for a perfect hostess gift or favor, this caramel popcorn will inevitably find a place in your regular snacking routine – especially when watching your fall-favorite movies (currently have Sweet Home Alabama playing in the background and munching). It’s simple to make and wonderfully easy to tweak; I add cinnamon to every other batch for an extra flavor echo of sweet autumn days. 

INGREDIENTS

  • Popped Popcorn (10 Cups) *Prepped and cooled. You can either pop on the stovetop with oil and allow to cool completely, or lazy girl hack, pop over to Whole Foods or your local market to buy one of the endless bagged options of “healthier” popcorn. I do both methods, but when lazy, use Lesser Evil brand.
  • Butter, unsalted (1 cup) 
  • Dark brown sugar, packed (1 1/3 cup) *I find dark yields a more robust and bold flavor, light brown sugar also suits but will yield a lighter caramel
  • Vanilla extra (1.5 teaspoons) *I am always generous with vanilla
  • Baking soda (1/4 teaspoon) 
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Caramel sauce: Over medium heat, melt the butter in an medium saucepan. Once butter is completely melted, add the sugar and stir in. Bring to a boil for 4 minutes while constantly stirring until it begins to lightly smoke. Take off the heat, and stir in vanilla, baking soda, sea salt (a few grinds) and your optional cinnamon. It will bubble but keep stirring off heat until sauce is smooth and thick. 
  3. Add sauce to the popcorn: In a large mixing bowl, dump your popcorn and with a spatula, stir in your caramel sauce until all popcorn is covered thoroughly and evenly with caramel sauce.
  4. Bake and cool the popcorn: Spread evenly across the baking sheets and bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Take out and let cool completely; prepare for ultimate caramel crunch satisfaction! 
  5. Crunch, crunch, crunch

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  • “One of my favorite things about female writers, about writers in general, about people who take what’s happened to them and they process it and they put it out into the world...is if you write, you can turn your lessons into your legacy.” -Taylor Swift. Her albums always, without fail, paint a musical narrative to complement whatever stage I’m personally and professionally journeying through. Can’t wait for my window seat airplane hours on Friday, listening to her new stories which will inevitably be the soundtrack to so many romantic, cinematic, modern jetsetter moments in Europe this summer. The life of a writer is the only life for me. xx 💋
  • Coffee date in the Italian Riviera, anyone? Every day in Italy starts with finding the perfect cappuccino. Three insider rules for Italy visitors to find that perfect frothy dream: 1️⃣ Don‘t be confused by the word “bar” (this is an Italian café and the center of social life for locals) 2️⃣ Venture away from the city center to find bars where the locals go; you should always pay less than €2 for a cappuccino. Tourist hotspots charge up to €7 and often a far cry from true Italian coffee culture 3️⃣ Do order a cornetto to go with your coffee; one must do as the Italians do 🥐☕️ 🇮🇹
  • With a summer in Italy around the corner, I’m quickly adapting to CPSR diet: cappuccino, pasta, spritz, repeat. May can’t come soon enough. Stay tuned to the blog this week for a guide to one of Italy’s most coveted destinations, my Nonna’s gnocchi recipe, weekend reads and our big wedding destination reveal (+ a little official change to our addresses in the world). #ModernJetsetter 💋
  • There is no destination in the world sweeter than the one I experienced today: next to my little brother’s side when he  found out he’s having a little baby boy - in the most country way ever. Thank you Kelsey for loving my brother the way you do, being an instant sister and for already being the most incredible mama to our Kipton. We can’t wait to spoil that boy with our love (and plenty of storytime with aunty in between duck hunting season). I love you three with all of my heart xx
  • Charleston is a perfect confluence of elegant southern tradition and European influence, especially when it comes to the food scene. Every time I discover a perfect charcuterie board or Aperol Spritz (far too often) it reminds me how short that Atlantic bridge between the USA and Europe is. During the next chapter of Modern Jetsetter, home time will be spent discovering the creme-de-la-creme of American living, and the million cultural pieces, flavors and patterns that make up our gorgeous presentation 🍷💋(food scene spotted st @goatsheepcow - one of my favorite Charleston restaurants)

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