No, really. Closer.
I'm going to tell you how to make caramel corn.
Oh, caramel corn. Or Fiddle Faddle. Or Poppycock. Or Cracker Jack. Whatever you choose to call it, it is a wondrous thing, and a gastronomic delight to behold.
Make this. It. Is. AWESOME. And I had all the ingredients in the house without having to make a trip to the store.
7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First of all, do you know how to pop popcorn the old fashioned way? My mom used to make popcorn this way... before the era of popcorn poppers and the five million pound microwave we had that took up more space than one of my ovens. It's cheap and pretty fast, only an eighth of the cost of today's microwave popcorn, if you're the thrifty sort. Sometimes I am. If it doesn't involve shoes.
The most important thing is that you have a big ass pan. This particular pan pre-dates me to our household. Nolan used to make fried rice in it. He hasn't done that in a while. (Hint hint.) Anyway, I've digressed. Right. Um, big ass pan. Measure three tablespoons of oil in the pan, and then 1/2 cup of popcorn, cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. You can sing a little KC and the Sunshine Band if the spirit moves you. (Shakeshakeshake, shakeshakeshake, shake your booty, shake your booty...)
Also, you might want to put a loose cover on that bad boy, or your dogs may or may not get a mid-afternoon snack. I made two of these batches, FYI.
Then, place the popped popcorn into two shallow, greased baking pans. You can use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn during this step. (Just do it. Cowgirl up. Don't be wishy washy.) Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, buttah and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Refrain from drinking this mixture.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated. It will happen. Trust.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove the pans, and give them each a good stir every 15 minutes. The corn gets coated during these stirs. Good times. It's time intensive, but I was watching a movie on my laptop during the whole ordeal. Knight and Day. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz being Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. There's two hours I'll never get back.
You stir. Like thus. And then stir again. and again.
Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags. I gave these as end of the year teacher gifts for Ethan's teachers, since he has a billion of them. I wrapped them in clear cellophane and tied them with a pretty red ribbon. And I think I got the popcorn containers at a party store. Cute gifty thing!
Dive in and enjoy!