I've played around with a few recipes, and this by far is my favorite. I'm not even a popcorn person. I don't even like Movie Theater popcorn that much. If you mix in some home made caramel....then you've got a winner!
Here is what you'll need:
1 large pot
1/3 cup of oil
almost 1 cup of popcorn kernels
Over medium heat, place the oil and 4 or 5 kernels into the pot. Keep it covered and watch it. When the kernels start popping, remove the pot from the heat. Pour the rest of the popcorn into the pot and set a timer for 45 seconds. This allows the kernels to be brought up to the heat of the oil and makes for more even cooking.
Place the pot back on the heat, gently moving the pot around on the burner. When the kernels begin popping, slightly crack the lid, so the steam can escape. Otherwise, you will end up with soggy popcorn.
At this point, I pour the popcorn into a large bowl....being sure to get rid of the few kernels that never popped. We don't want broken teeth, do we?
When it has been about 10-15 seconds inbetween popping, remove from heat.
At this point, you can add butter and salt.....but if you want to hit a homerun, then you'll make up a batch of caramel!
Here is what you'll need to make the caramel:
2 sticks of butter (not margarine)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Once that is melted, add the brown sugar and corn syrup....mixing constantly. When bubbles start to appear, stop mixing and set the time for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan, but do not mix at all!
When the 5 minutes are up, remove from heat and add the vanilla and baking soda and mix thoroughly. The caramel will expand and turn lighter in color.
Once it's mixed, pour onto the popcorn and mix. Be sure not to touch it, since it is still very hot!
Set the oven temp to 250 degrees. Place the coated popcorn onto a large cookie sheet. Be sure that you place them on a wire rack that is not too close to the burners.
This is going to bake for an hour. You are going to mix it up every 15 minutes....so set your timer!
When your hour is up, remove it from the oven, and carefully spoon into a large bowl. As it cools, you'll want to take a spoon and break it up a bit. Once it's cool, bag it up or just eat it straight from the bowl!
After making it for your family.....your kids will thank you....and you will never go back to store bought caramel corn ever!!