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.
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 275°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Crunch, crunch, crunch