Growing up in Iowa, corn was everywhere. Sweet corn was only available in the summertime. For my family, to get a year round corn fix, we ate popcorn.
I always knew it was 9 pm because I’d hear the whirl of the air popper spitting out hot popped corn. The mixing bowl clanked against the counter as dad used a butter knife to fold melted butter into the hot popcorn. How I loved the nightly popcorn!
The popcorn maker and the bag of yellow kernels are brought out on Saturday nights for our family movie night. We attentively pop the corn, melt the butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before settling the bowl in between our laps on the couch. It’s earthy aroma grounds me and I feel at home.
Though I’ve eaten popcorn most of my life, I didn’t know much about it until recently. Did you know that popcorn is a special corn plant that is grown for just this purpose? Mostly grown in the Midwest, it is harvested and dried until the kernels reach the perfect level of hydration. Different varieties abound and each offers a slightly different texture and appearance. The multi colored variety, bought in the grocery store’s bulk bin, produced smaller, creamy colored and slightly sweeter popped corn.
As the summer turns to fall, I find myself craving a popcorn treat to harold in the new season. As opposed to caramel corn or popcorn balls, This caramel coated popcorn is incredibly quick and easy. Unlike most caramel corn recipes, this one doesn’t require an hour of stirring in the oven. Unlike, popcorn balls, these have a richer flavor and no burnt fingers! The caramel coats the popcorn and creates a crisp shell.
Caramel Coated Popcorn
Though corn syrup seems the perfect accompaniment to caramel corn, I found that Lyle’s Golden Syrup imparted a fuller flavor to this recipe. When using a candy thermometer, be sure to read the temperature when the tip is not touching the bottom of the pan.
- ¼ cup popcorn kernels, popped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
Grease a baking sheet and set aside. Place popped popcorn into a large bowl and remove any un-popped kernels.
In a 3 quart saucepan, add butter, syrup, water, and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil on medium high. Turn down to medium low and continue to boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side and cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 300℉, about 15 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in salt and baking soda. The mixture will foam and bubble. Quickly pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir with a wooden spoon. Spread coated popcorn onto the greased baking sheet. Let cool slightly and then separate into bite-sized pieces. Let cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days.