I love the warm aroma of the freshly popped popcorn and rich, buttery, dark brown sugary, delicious caramel as it meanders throughout our home. It’s the airy essence of your favorite family summer getaway and personally reminds me of the confectionery shop at our favorite shore locale and the one on Main Street at Disney World. It transports you through time and space to a land of happy family summer days and nights. You can almost hear the giggles of delightful family jubilance while this sweet aroma wafts through your home.
Add roasted or toasted nuts of your choice. My favorite is pecans and peanuts, but my family prefers theirs just plain, so that’s how I made it, of course. It’s lighter and easier than most baked desserts, which is nice for the hot summer days and breezy nights. The rich, sweet and decadent glass like caramel lightly glazes the freshly popped corn with a rich lacquered fine coat, while the sea salt adds just a bit of depth and obvious addictiveness. It’s one of those sweet and salty and awesomely lethal (to your diet) combinations that I love all too much, indeed.
I keep this recipe to as few ingredients as possible, but of course if you prefer a bit of vanilla or cinnamon essence in your caramel corn you can add a half a vanilla bean’s seeds or a sprinkle of cinnamon to the caramel concoction as it bubbles and boils. Some people add baking soda to their caramel, but I didn’t find that necessary here, since it’s just a simple coating, not a brittle. The thin salted sea glass like coating crackles quite easily on its own after baking in the oven. Plus, fewer ingredients means simplicity. Can’t we all use a little simplicity now and then? I hope you enjoy this as much as our family did.
Simple and Decadent Salted Caramel Popcorn
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/3 cup popping corn kernels
- 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- Sprinkling of fine sea salt to taste
- *optional: 1-2 cups roasted or toasted nuts of choice
- Place two 9×14 inch baking dishes aside. Or, line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Heat 3 popcorn kernels in the oil in a covered 3-quart heavy bottomed saucepan over moderate heat until 1 or 2 kernels pop. Remove lid and quickly add remaining kernels, then immediately cover and shake pan frequently, cooking approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat when popping slows (5-6 seconds between pops) and then uncover and pour into a large bowl. *If using optional toasted nuts, add to bowl with popcorn.*
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat and then add brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil. Boil undisturbed and unstirred for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir.
- While still bubbling and boiling, pour the hot caramel in a thin stream over the freshly popped popcorn. Stir to evenly coat all the popcorn and immediately scoop the hot caramel corn onto the parchment-lined baking sheets or baking dishes in a single layer. Sprinkle with fine sea salt. Place in preheated oven for 50 minutes, tossing lightly half way between baking time.
- Remove from oven, bring to room temperature and enjoy!
- Store in air tight containers to retain crackle.