What’s she brewing up now? Microwave Caramel Popcorn

If you don't like caramel
corn I'd be glad to share
my recipe for stewed toads!

    My mother used to make caramel popcorn – it started with a sugar sauce that had to be cooked to the firm ball stage (248°); the sauce was then poured over popped corn and baked in the oven at a low temperature for almost an hour. It was really good but time consuming and a bit complicated.
     When I found a microwave version in the Stafford Centennial Cookbook, I tried it out, making a few minor adjustments along the way. It was perfect for high school foods classes and also fast and easy for home use.
     Barry and I both grew up in Stafford – he was a “city” boy and I lived in the country so actually attended school at  Zenith for the first eight years (there were five in my class when we enrolled in 1st grade; the same five graduated from 8th grade and later from SHS). Stafford is not a large town but I did not know the person who had submitted the recipe for caramel corn.
     Have to admit that it has been awhile since I made the recipe but decided that I wanted to make it again this fall. Pulled out the cookbook and located the recipe only to realize that I had just recently met the person (Sue McMillan Duckworth) who had submitted the recipe to the cookbook. 
     We met at this year's Octoberfest in Stafford; just happened to be staying in the same B&B as the Duckworths. So, now when I make this yummy popcorn, I have a face to associate with the recipe.

3 quarts (12 cups) popped corn
Large brown grocery sack – actually 2 (with one inserted inside the other) is ideal
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

1.     Pop corn (sort out any unpopped kernels, if possible) and put in the grocery sack.
2.     Combine butter, brown sugar, syrup and salt in a large micro-safe bowl; cook in microwave on HIGH until it starts boiling (I put all ingredients in bowl, put them in the microwave for about 1 minute, stirred and returned reset timer for about 2 minutes – in my microwave it took about 3 minutes for the syrup to boil). Stir and cook another 2 minutes. 
This is what the syrup looks like after it has cooked.
      Add baking soda, stirring as you add. Baking soda, a base, will react with the acid in the brown sugar and syrup, creating some foaming action at this point. It the process the syrup will change in color and consistency.
Notice the lightened color and small bubbles formed after the baking soda was added.
3.     Pour syrup over corn in the bag and stir to distribute syrup. 

      Then, shake closed bag until caramel is well mixed with corn. Cook in bag on high in microwave for 1½ minutes. Remove, shake and cook another 1½ minutes. Pour into  low, flat pan(s) and allow to air dry (I use jelly-roll pans).

4.     Store dry caramel corn in a covered container.

Check out our other Halloween related posts:
Eye of Newt Pudding
Halloween decor
Hoot Owl Cookies

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