When I was a kid I never went trick-or-treating. (You can all say “awww” now.) It just wasn’t something we did. Instead, we’d visit my grandparents, and the special treat my Nana made every year was her own version of “Cracker Jack” popcorn. Halloween just isn’t the same to me without it. (I’m so fond of it, I even made a Caramel Corn lip balm this fall!)
I have my grandmother’s recipe, but of course it never tastes as good when I make it. This year I decided to change it up and make a different kind of caramel popcorn, just for grown-ups. It’s still sticky sweet, but with a subtle maple flavor and pecans instead of peanuts. Here’s how it’s done:
Start by popping the corn:
Pop 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels. I use a hot air popper, but you can use microwave popcorn, too. (Try to choose a variety with minimal flavoring.) It will take 2 to 3 microwave bags to get the right quantity—you’ll want about 5 quarts of popped popcorn. Spread the popcorn in a roasting pan and add 1 cup of pecans.
For the maple caramel coating, you’ll need:
1 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff!)
1/3 cup corn syrup
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add sugar and syrups, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and add:
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt (may omit if using salted popcorn)
1/4 tsp baking soda
Bake popcorn in the oven for 1 hour at 250°, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then store in a sealed container.
Have you ever made caramel popcorn? Do you use peanuts, or some other type of nut? Different flavorings? I’d love to hear about other variations! Please share your ideas!