I really do love the holidays but.... sometimes they get so hectic that things I want to do just don't happen. I sometimes find myself working right up until the last minute and then things don't always turn out right. One of the ways to get around this is to start early and be prepared. Cookies, candies, breads and lots of other things can be made and frozen for when you are ready to use them. Well, then there are the times this just doesn't happen. Sometimes quick goodies are called for! Caramel Corn is one of those quick things I like to fix, quick. It is a treat that most people enjoy but don't always make for themselves. I surprised a couple of neighbors with this treat on the day before Christmas. Of course, it is really good on any day - not just holidays. I also like to make this when the Grandkiddos come to visit. This recipe was given to me by a good friend many years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has, over the years and through the moves.... Oh, I also want to mention that one time I needed a little filler when those Grandkiddos were visiting. So, I pulled out a pot and made popcorn - from scratch, with real popping corn. Well, they were amazed because they thought popcorn came in a little bag and was made in the microwave. They gobbled it up! So, for you that have never made popcorn from scratch, I am including instructions here. For those of us that remember the old days, you can over look this part of the post...
Old Fashioned Popcorn
3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (Canola or Vegetable Oils are great)
1 cup Popping Corn
In a very large pot, heat the Cooking Oil until it is hot. I put 3 seeds of popping corn into the pot, put on the lid and shake the pot. When the 3 seeds have popped you will know that the oil is hot and ready so add the Popping Corn. Put a tight fitting lid on the pot and shake to keep the seeds moving until it is fully popped. When the popping is over, your popcorn is ready. Now, you can dump your popped corn into a large bowl and add butter and salt or eat it plain. 1 cup of popping corn makes approximately 24 cups of popped corn. This is a very large bowl of popcorn!
24 cups of plain Old Fashioned Popcorn (see recipe above, with no butter or salt added!)
2 cups Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Margarine (that's 2 cubes)
1/2 cup White Corn Syrup (I use Karo brand)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Butter Flavoring (adds a lot of flavor)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Peanuts or other nuts (optional)
Measure your Popcorn into a large and deep roasting pan. Watch for any unpopped kernals and pull them out - they can break a tooth!
In a very large saucepan, combine the Brown Sugar, Margarine, Corn Syrup, and Salt. Bring to a gentle boil and boil for 5 minutes - with no lid.
Remove saucepan from heat and add Butter Flavoring and stir. Add the Baking Soda and Stir. This mixture will foam up and then calm back down, this is why you want to use a very large saucepan. Being very careful, because it is VERY HOT, pour the mixture over the Popped Corn in the roasting pan. Add the nuts, if you want them. Mix everything together to coat the Popcorn. Bake in 200˚ oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes - I use a wide spatula for stirring. Allow to cool and break apart. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container (plastic storage bags are great for this) It will last for several days - if you can keep your hands out of it!
If you are giving this Caramel Corn as a gift, fill a nice gift bag or container that seals tight. Tie with a ribbon and it is ready to go. Neighbors love it!