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Jan 14, 2009 12:36 PM

Caramel Popcorn

The other day, a restaurant gave me a bag of caramel popcorn as a "Thank You for Dining With Us" gift. It was delicious! Sweet, buttery, salty, with just the right amount of somewhat chewy caramel on crisp popcorn. Any idea how I would make this? I can't seen to find any reliable recipe online. Are we talking soft ball stage caramel here people? I'm only slightly experienced with candy making, but I'm willing to experiment!

I am NOT looking for Cracker Jack-style dark, crisp caramel, but rather a light, butter caramel that is sort of sprinkled over the popcorn just enough so some of the pieces stick together and form little balls.

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. I;m no candy-maker either, but am thinking that a little melted brown sugar, with butter and salt, might do the trick.

    5 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Granulated (white) sugar would provide a lighter caramel.

      Just be sure to butter your hands (with a spray bottle of water nearby) for making the balls.

      I wouldn't go so far as soft ball stage, as that wouldn't harden as much. Just a touch of butter to caramelizing sugar in a pan would work.

      1. re: Caralien

        You mean cooking less than to soft ball stage would produce a harder caramel? I thought the more you cook it the harder it gets. If I read you right, you're saying to put white sugar in the pan and caramelize just until light, then add a little butter and spread over the popcorn - is that right?

        1. re: jenhen2

          Yes. Just use a touch of butter--too much and it will be gooey caramel (tasty and sticky, but not what I believe you're looking for!).

          I would make the caramel to the point where it can be drizzled (not spread) over the popcorn (on a buttered sheet or jelly roll pan), quickly forming the balls with buttered palms.

          1. re: Caralien

            Great, thanks!! Do you think I should butter / salt the popcorn first, before adding the caramel, or would that be overkill? Also, if I wanted to salt the caramel, should I put it in at the start with the dry sugar or at the end with the butter? Thanks again for your help!

            1. re: jenhen2

              Personally, just pop the corn in butter and salt, and that should be enough for the kernals (I don't like things overly sweet or salty, but it comes down to personal preference). If you're using salted butter, I wouldn't add salt. But if you're using sweet/unsalted butter, a sprinkle on the corn after adding the caramel could be what you're looking for.

              Try it out in batches to see what works best for you, and have fun!