My take on the classic involves a super straightforward caramel recipe. The resulting caramel corn is a soft, warm, and very gooey. It’s meant to be consumed on the spot unlike the crunchy variety, which keeps longer.
You can make the caramel for this recipe ahead of time. It makes 2 cups, which is way more than you’ll need, so fill a small jar below the freeze line and put it away for a rainy, or chilly, day. Because hot sugar is a major burn hazard it’s important to make this when you can focus at the task at hand, and there aren’t young children in the kitchen.
Homemade Caramel Kettle Corn
for the caramel (adapted from Simply Recipes)
1 cup granulated white sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Heat the sugar in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar occasionally, and keep a close eye on it. After 5 or 10 minutes, the sugar will start to liquefy and form large chunks. Keep stirring. Then the sugar will turn a golden color and become a liquid. Be very careful here, liquid sugar is much hotter than boiling water. Right when all the sugar has completely melted, add the butter, and stir until it’s melted. Note, the butter may really froth up here and that’s why your using such a large pot. Once butter has melted, remove for heat, wait five seconds, and gradually stir on the cream. Pour into jars and seal, leaving some in the pan if you are going to make the caramel corn right away.
for the corn
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
In a large kettle heat the oil and 3 corn kernels over medium high heat. When the three kernels pop, add the rest of the corn, hold the lid on with your pot-holder clad hands, and shake. I shake occasionally at first and then progress to constant shaking as the popcorn starts to pop. Do this for 5 minutes and then quickly remove popped corn from the kettle.
Pour the warm caramel sauce over the corn and let it sit for 5 minutes. Check salt levels and add more if you like. Serve in small bowls.