Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Corn

 

Caramel corn is one of those things that I never really think about.  Do you have desserts that you always gravitate towards or order in restaurants?  Or specific types of food you always bookmark in cookbooks or blogs?  My mom is a huge caramel corn lover, but it was never really my thing.  She’s one of those people who will wait an hour in line at Garrett’s for a fresh made batch of warm, gooey popcorn.  Don’t get me wrong, Garrett’s is delicious, but it’s not something I’d wait in line for like all the tourists in Chicago…but maybe that is because I live here.  I would be even less inclined to wait in a long line for popcorn now that I know I can make something this delicious at home!

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Cornadapted from Our Best Bites

  • 12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)
  • 1 C lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 C light corn syrup (or honey)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 C)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 squares almond bark or about 1 cup of white chocolate Candy Melts (regular white chocolate chips just do not melt down as smooth in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Place popcorn in a very large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Use a slightly larger bowl than you think you will need, as the caramel will bubble up and increase in volume.

Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour the corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine.  Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.  At this point the mixture should be nice and bubbly.  Check out Our Best Bites’ picture, as I was multi-tasking while making and didn’t get a shot!

If it doesn’t quite look like that you can microwave it a little longer, but just beware that if you overcook it, it will reach the hard candy stage and you’ll end up with a giant clump of tasty concrete.

Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.

Add to popcorn and stir until combined.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Sprinkle with salt.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

When cool, drizzle the melted almond bark or white chocolate Candy Melts onto the popcorn.  This is, of course, optional – but gives it a nice final touch and makes it look more festive too!

The caramel corn will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.  however, there’s no way it will last that long in your house.  This is also great packaged as gifts, which is what I did for a “sprinkle” I hosted for a friend a couple of weeks ago.  It was a such a hit, I decided to add it to my holiday baking mix!

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