Everything Caramel Corn

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Every summer my husband packs up his sleeping bag, a few pairs of shorts, and Lego (our big dog) to go canoeing down a river for 4 days with a bunch of other guys. They jump off rocks, drink whiskey, smoke cigars, and sleep outside. I worry every year about his safety sure, but I worry even more that on one of these trips he is going to buy some land on the river and move us down there. And as much as I love fresh food, I love target and indoor plumbing even more. So this year I decided to send him off on his trip with a little reminder of home. I briefly considered a framed picture of me and the dogs but didn’t think that would have the intended effect. Searching through my “Joy the Baker” cookbook, I found my answer. Popcorn, pretzels, peanut butter ritz bitz, and other treats coated in caramel corn and baked. Salty, sweet, and it can’t be recreated in the wilderness. Perfect!

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{these little guys are ready for a caramel party}

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{action shot}

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{only the thought of a burnt tongue stopped me from stuffing my face at this point}

From the Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson

Everything Caramel Corn

Makes about 12 Cups

For the Popcorn Mixture:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup yellow popcorn
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry roasted almonds
  • 1 ½ cups pretzel sticks (2 big handfuls)
  • 1 ½ cups peanut butter sandwich crackers
  • 1 ½ cups teddy grahams*

For the caramel:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

*Not part of the original recipe.

To make the popcorn mixture: in a large pan over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add the corn kernels and place a lid, slightly ajar, over the pot. Pop the popcorn until the popping sound subsides. Turn off the heat, carefully pour the hot popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.

In a 9×13- inch pan, measure 7 heaping cups of popcorn, being sure to avoid any unpopped kernels. Top popcorn with almonds, pretzel sticks, crackers, and grahams. Set aside.

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F.

To make the caramel: combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Carefully whisk the mixture as it heats and the sugar melts. Boil the sugar and butter mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Whisk well. Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the 9×13-inch pan over the popcorn mixture. Use a large wooden spoon to toss the two together making sure that every bit of the popcorn mixture is coated in caramel. Be careful- you don’t want the hot sugar to touch your hands. It burns!

Place pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, removing the pan to toss every 15 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven. Carefully spoon onto sheets of waxed paper to dry. Once dry, store in an airtight container. Popcorn will last, stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 1 week.

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