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Caramel corn is an American treat dating back to the 1890’s when the candymakers, F. W. Rueckheim and Brother, came up with a combination of popcorn, molasses and peanuts that became popular. It is said that in 1896 one of the Rueckheim Brothers gave a sample of the caramel corn to a salesman who exclaimed, “That’s crackerjack!” a term that was popular at that time meaning, “excellent,” or “of excellent quality”, which is how the name came about for this notorious American treat. As the demand for Cracker Jacks grew, so did their marketing, the Rueckheim’s company began running the slogan “The more you eat, the more you want.” Little did the Rueckheim’s know at the time, but their creation would soon become one of the most popular sweet treats sold and also considered by many as the first junk food.
So, there you have it, I have gone from blogging about protein, veggies, and hummus this past week to junk food. All bias’ aside, who doesn’t love the sweet and salty flavors coating every single popped kernel of corn?! Now, this is not my attempt to replicate the Cracker Jack recipe, but rather to enlighten you on the history of this treasured ‘junk food’ and to provide you with my favorite caramel corn recipe, which was passed down to me years ago. Light, crunchy, sweet, salty, melt-in-your-mouth handfuls of popped goodness – make this recipe STAT and see that “the more you eat, the more you want.”
Salted Caramel Corn
Prep time: 15 minutes / Bake time: 25 minutes
9 cups popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, salted
1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Pop 9 cups of popcorn, I used an air popper
- Remove unpopped kernels from popcorn.
- Line a large baking dish or roasting pan with nonstick foil.
- Place popped popcorn onto the prepared pan and set aside.
- Begin caramel sauce by combining brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, without stirring, for five minutes more.
- Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.
- Pour sauce over popcorn; stir gently to coat.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Stir mixture; bake five minutes more and repeat after five more minutes.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle salt once more before allowing to cool.
- Store in an airtight container for up-to five days.
You can add a variety of nuts, dried fruit or chocolate to this recipe. Be creative and have fun!
To purchase the air popper I own and recommend, click HERE.
TIP: Use quality ingredients when baking or making sweet treats like this Salted Caramel Corn. For instance, this Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla Extract is my FAVORITE. I keep it stocked in my cabinet.
Salted Caramel Corn. A crowd pleaser on game night, a fun birthday party treat, a late night movie snack, or even a delightful homemade end-of-the-year teacher gift. This recipe is sure to be a hit.