A couple of days ago, we were "booed" by a neighbor: we became recipients of some Halloween goodies, with instructions to "boo" two more neighbors in turn by secretly dropping off some goodies for them.
I immediately thought of a caramel corn recipe I'd printed from the King Arthur Flour website a few years ago. The recipe had gotten rave reviews from commenters, but I couldn't remember if I'd tried it out for myself. But no time like the present, so I made two half recipes via the microwave. Each half recipe yielded about 8 ounces.
Then we got word that a relative may be stopping by this evening. Since this relative has several kids, I decided to make the caramel corn again, only this time using the full-recipe instructions that call for oven baking. And of course, the full recipe equals one pound.
Even with making two half recipes, the microwave version is much quicker than the oven version: between 5-6 minutes per microwave batch, versus a full hour of oven cooking (very little hands-on time, though; just a good stir every 15 minutes).
But I have to admit, the oven caramel corn turned out better. Even though I'm sure you know what caramel corn looks like, here's how it turned out:
This link is for the oven version; the microwave technique was courtesy of a commenter. To save you from having to wade through all those comments, here's how to make the caramel corn that way:
Microwave Version of Carol's Caramel Corn
7 1/2 cups popped popcorn
1 tablespoon molasses (see note below)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter (see note below)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Place popped corn in large microwave-proof bowl (I recommend greasing bowl first for easier clean-up later. And since my microwave is large enough, I used a 9x13 glass dish, figuring it'd be easier to evenly coat the popcorn than in a bowl).
Place molasses, brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in medium microwave-proof bowl (again, I recommend greasing the bowl first). Cook on high one minute, stir, then cook 2 minutes more. Add the 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, mix in, then pour syrup over popped corn. Stir, then cook 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Spread out onto waxed paper to cool.
Notes: a commenter had suggested using half honey, half molasses in the recipe (so in the case of the above half recipe, 1 1/2 teaspoons each). I have dark molasses on hand, so decided to try that suggestion. Worked great; I would not have wanted the stronger molasses taste that the full amount would have created. But if you love dark molasses - or have the light kind on hand - feel free to add that one tablespoon.
I had unsalted butter, so I added a few sprinkles of salt right after pouring the cooked syrup over the popped corn, then mixed the salt in while stirring the syrup evenly onto the corn.
Some commenters said they had added nuts to the mixture. For this half recipe, King Arthur recommended 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, adding them along with the popped corn before making the syrup. I'm sure that other nuts could be used as well; I suspect they suggested peanuts to create a "Cracker Jack" effect.
This stuff is seriously good! I'm half-hoping the relative won't show up tonight - then I can have the caramel corn all for myself!
But then again, even if he does show up and claims this treat, our daughter is coming home next weekend, so I can make another batch and share it with her. That would work!