Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Caramel Corn

I have two questions: Why have I never made caramel corn before?! Why did I have to go and make caramel corn?!

It is always a little dangerous to figure out the things you're capable of in your own kitchen.

Caramel corn isn't something I buy, it isn't something I think about, it isn't something I crave. I couldn't even tell you when the last time I had it was - though I'd be willing to bet I was still wearing braces and that the caramel corn came out of one of those tins with three flavors of popcorn in them that my school used to sell to raise money. Nothing good ever came out of one of those tins.

This caramel corn couldn't be more different.

I've been seeing different variations of caramel corn everywhere lately. Funny how food trends go. The recipe I used - or should I say, changed - is from a new book called DamGoodSweet, as seen on Orangette. I chose this one because it was basic, and could be altered easily enough so that my sons could eat it.

My version has no refined sugar in it - palm sugar has replaced the granulated, and agave was used instead of corn syrup. I also left out the nuts, because they are to difficult for the little guys to eat. I also upped the salt, because I wanted it to be more of a flavor than just a flavor enhancer. I just love sweet/salty treats!

I couldn't stop eating this caramel corn, it is so delicious. Fortunately, I only made 1/3 of the recipe. It is wonderfully crunchy, but not at all in a way that will break your teeth! It is sweet, and salty, and has an amazing rich caramel flavor from the palm sugar. It couldn't be easier to make, either. Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas, because this would make a great food gift!

I'd like to play around some with flavorings - different nuts, different spices - but for now, here is the basic recipe that is so good on its own, it really doesn't need any dressing up!

Caramel Corn
adapted from DamGoodSweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel via Orangette

10 cups popped popcorn - I popped mine in ghee on the stovetop, but you can use any kind you like (if you use microwave, it will probably have added salt, so keep that in mind when salting yours)
1 cup palm sugar
1/4 cup light agave
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (measure this before you start cooking your caramel)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (measure this before you start cooking your caramel)

Preheat oven to 250. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place popped popcorn in large greased bowl, set aside. Combine palm sugar, agave, butter, salt and water in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat, and immediately add the baking soda and vanilla and whisk to combine. Quickly pour caramel over popcorn, and using a rubber spatula, stir to coat all of the popcorn evenly. Be gentle here, you want the popcorn to remain whole. Pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it evenly. Bake for 1 hour, stirring, turning and re-spreading the popcorn every 20 minutes. At this point, you can take a little taste and see if it is salty enough for you. I sprinkled some coarse sea salt on mine, and I highly recommend it! Let cool on rack for 20 minutes, then gently break apart and serve! You may store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days, but I doubt it will last that long!


  1. What color! How lovely and I bet it tastes pretty darn good, too.

  2. Looks great...question, if I don't have palm sugar, ghee, and agave, what are the ratios of the sugar, corn syrup to the ones posted in the recipe? looks delicious and I am sure the guys would love it.

  3. Kayte - Everything is a 1:1 ratio. For the palm sugar, use brown sugar and for the agave, corn syrup. The ghee you don't need to worry about, I just used it for popping my corn. Just make popcorn however you normally do it and use that. I'm sure the guys will love it!

  4. This looks really great Sarah - love the color! I'm not sure I've ever had caramel corn, but like you said, it's been popping up everywhere and I now I want to try it.

  5. looks fantastic! what a beautiful color!

  6. Hmmmm - agave, huh. This looks amazing and better than store bought stuff.

  7. Your photos are stunning. Great movie night snack!

  8. Wait! Back up! It's too early to be thinking about Christmas? Well, if I were to think about Christmas, and I'm not saying I have or haven't been, this would indeed make a wonderful gift. Homemade is always a treasure, but when it's something this delicious and downright addictive...actually, I don't know if people would be thanking you or cursing you! :D Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  9. Oh my gosh I love it! I almost passed by as "looks SO good but I can't eat that" but then I saw no refined sugar!

  10. Yum, I love caramel corn! And that cake plate, it's so beautiful. I made caramel corn for the first round of Secret Baker since I thought it would ship well and was happy that the recipe made a ton so I could have a bit. It's great that you managed to make it without refined sugar.

  11. Oh yeah! I love caramel popcorn! I always make some if I am not too busy with work! I really like when it is homemade!

  12. Just tried to make this... it was going wonderfully, i checked it at 20 min and stirred the popcorn in the oven, but at 40 min it was completely burned. Has anyone else had the caramel popcorn burn in the oven? It seems like it was ready to be taken out at 20 min.... advice?

  13. @butterluvsquash - I'm so sorry, I just re-read my post and saw that I had a typo: the oven temp should be 250, not 350. It has been fixed now, but I really apologize for the mistake.

  14. Caramel corn?!? Now they're going to have to tie me up to keep me out of the kitchen. I seriously love that stuff and can't trust myself with it.

  15. I found this recipe a couple of days ago and made a double batch with coconut sugar and maple syrup instead of palm/agave. I subbed coconut oil for about a third of the butter and added 1 t. cinnamon (1/2 t. per batch) with the baking soda and vanilla. Oh my gosh! Can't stop eating it. Must make more.


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