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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baked Caramel Corn

Growing up at the Jersey Shore, one of my favorite things was the boardwalk.  And one of my favorite things on the boardwalk, well, besides all the boys.. was Johnson's Popcorn.   It is iconic of the Ocean City boardwalk in the summer.. the smell and the batches being made in the large copper kettles. So delicious.  The popcorn was sold in large tubs which they would pile high and hand you the lid and off you'd go walking the boards while munching on the fresh caramel corn.  Still slightly warm, yet very crunchy and never moist.  
I got this recipe when I was in the 7th grade and although it's not made in copper drum kettles.. it comes out as close as I remember.  Finished off slowly in the oven, it  comes out perfectly dry & crunchy.  
So, why am I posting a summer treat in the beginning of December, you ask?  Well, it makes the perfect gift.  So easy to make and doesn't break the bank with ingredients... and you will see the rave results.   I touted this as the best recipe to a girlfriend who's guilty pleasure is kettle corn and clearly, I could see the doubt.  Then she tasted it and said it truly was the best she had.  I know. 

This recipe can be easily doubled for gift giving.. I used a pyrex glass dish and 2 white corning dishes that could sit side by side in the oven.  You just want to make sure it fits your oven but the bake time might be longer.  It will be warm but pretty much dry when it's done.  So add time according to your baking dishes, if you double the recipe. I can't do more than 1.5xs in my oven here. 
Not usual for me or my blog... this recipe is not healthy at all and I am not going to apologize and I am not going to try and remix this to a healthy version.  As I see it, this is a treat!..  Not a daily snack!  rich, indulgent and delicious.  So, relax and enjoy a bit, your friends will be glad!


1 c. butter
2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. corn syrup
1 t. sea salt

6 qt. popcorn, popped 
1 T. coconut oil (optional)*  

1/2 t. baking soda
1.5 t. vanilla extract

Sea Salt

Pre-heat oven to 250º  
Place popped corn in large bowl.   *optional:  Drizzle and toss with 1T. of warmed coconut oil.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Bring heat up and stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and vanilla. 
Pour over popped corn, very carefully mix well.  
Turn into 2 large, shallow baking pans.  Bake for 1 hour.. stirring every 15 minutes.  If your dish isn't shallow enough.. this might take longer.  
Optional at this point but adds to deliciousness...When hot out of the oven, give a little sprinkle of sea salt, to taste. Not to much, enough for sweet & salty yumminess. 
Let cool completely.  Break apart and store in air-tight container.  

air popped & then tossed with warm coconut oil. Smells so good!
(the largest bowl I could find; holds about 9-10 qts of popcorn)

gooey sugar mixture poured in, using 2 wooden spoons to mix it up

a batch & 1/2 needs 1 large pyrex and 2 corning dishes to bake

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