Movie Night Caramel Corn
Ben’s love of popcorn began when he was a toddler and we lived in San Francisco. We popped popcorn every Thursday night when his best friend Sebastian would come to play. It’s a tradition we continue even though Sebastian now lives in London and we live in Los Angeles.
Our boys’ affection for popcorn continues to grow as they discovered kettle and caramel corn while strolling through our neighborhood farmers’ market on a recent Sunday afternoon. They liked it so much we were inspired to try it at home.
They now enjoy caramel corn on movie nights and for picnics and special occasions. It can be eaten by the handful, crumbled and sprinkled over a scoop of ice cream, or tossed in a bowl with green and purple grapes to give a little dimension to a decadent treat.
1 cup unpopped popcorn
1 cup roasted, salted almonds
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
2-1/2 cups brown sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup water
½ cup melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pop the corn as you normally would, and place in a large mixing bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels. Add the almonds and peanuts, mix well and set aside.
Make the caramel mixture: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the temperature reaches 270°F on a candy thermometer (the "hard ball" stage). If you don't have a candy thermometer, periodically drop a tiny bit of the liquid candy mixture into cold water. It's done when the candy forms a hard ball. Slowly pour the melted butter, vanilla and cinnamon into the hot mixture while stirring constantly.
Carefully pour the mixture over the popped corn, stirring with a rubber spatula or metal spoon until well combined. When it’s cool enough to handle, spread the candied corn out on several sheet pans and break any large clumps into small ones. Allow it to cool completely and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Note: The sugar mixture will be very hot; Work very carefully to prevent burning yourself and do not work with small children present.
Makes at least 12 servings
It’s been five years since our Thursday night popcorn play dates. Sebastian has since been accepted to Westminster Abbey Choir School. But maybe one day we can travel across the pond to reunite old friends and share in some light-hearted popcorn and fun before his next concert.
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