I have a real weakness for the salty/sweet/crunchy combo, and if you look through our archives, you’ll find all manner of sweet and savory nuts, seeds, granola and bars that I’ve shared. Let me add caramel corn to the list, because it makes a pretty awesome autumn treat.
I have been making different versions of caramel corn since college with all manner of sweeteners, including maple and rice syrups. The recipe I am sharing here is not free of refined sugar, but it is my favorite. Honey and brown sugar create a really rich caramel flavor without being too sweet. Do make sure you use real honey.
I pop my corn in an air-popper, because it is so easy, but oil-popped popcorn is probably even better. The addition of peanuts makes for a real Crackerjack-like experience, but the corn is great with all kinds of nuts. Happy snacking.
Honey Caramel Corn
10-12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (or nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla paste, extract is fine)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter, sugar and honey over medium heat in a saucepan large enough to avoid boil-over (a mistake I made with this batch). When mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Take off heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda (the mixture will foam up a bit with the addition of the baking soda, so be prepared). In a large bowl, toss popcorn, nuts and caramel mixture to thoroughly coat. Spread popcorn on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, stirring at halfway point. Allow to cool, break apart and store in an air-tight container.