I'm making caramel corn to give as gifts, packaged in holiday bags with a decorative tag. I like to include a label with ingredients when I give food gifts. This recipe is good for the gluten-free and nut-free friends on your list, and the appeal of crunch-sweet-salty popcorn goes far beyond those with dietary restrictions.
Popcorn (make 2 batches)
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/3 Cup Popping Corn
1 stick butter
1 Cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Heat oil in a large pot with a lid, add one popcorn kernel and listen for it to pop. Immediately add remaining popcorn. Cover, and shake pan occasionally to prevent burning. Listen for popping to stop, then remove from heat and put popcorn in a large bowl. Pick out any un-popped kernels. Repeat for second batch. Each batch will make 8-9 cups of popcorn.
In a medium size heavy-bottomed pot melt butter with brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir to combine and then simmer without stirring about 5 minutes.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread popped corn on sheet (check again for un-popped kernels.)
Add baking powder and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture (it will bubble up) stir to combine and then pour over popcorn on the baking sheet. Toss/mix with a large spoon (popcorn will not be completely coated.) Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring several times, at 5-10 minute intervals.
Remove from oven, stir again, and season with salt if desired. At this point, colored sprinkles may also be added. Cool completely before storing or packaging for gifts.