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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caramel Crack (aka, Caramel Popcorn)

"Caramel Crack" sort of sounds like it should be the name of a woman of ill repute (read: hussy - which was recently determined by a group of friends to be a great word in the English language).  Caramel crack is a WONDERFUL little dessert from the recipe files of a friend of mine whose aunt should pretty much be given sainthood for introducing so many people to this.Wherever you are, auntie dearest, I thank you.

It starts off with popping popcorn and since I am old school and cheap, we made it the way we used to pre-microwaves (all you youngun's hush). I was the child of poor graduate students in the early eighties. Oil + popcorn kernels.  It is a step below a popcorn popper and a step above the way Almanzo in Farmer Boy (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) made popcorn.  And this is why you make it this way...

...to get this sort of reaction from your child.  I swear she was waving her hands around frantically as the popcorn popped in a mixture of equal parts terror and jubilation.

Caramel Popcorn

3 1/2 quarts (14 cups) popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup of kernels)
1/2 c butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp Baking soda

Place popcorn into a large well greased bowl.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients (salt, vanilla, baking soda).

Pour over popcorn and mix well. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 250 for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

When cool, separate and store in an airtight container.

Tell your husband to hide said container of caramel crack and not to tell you where he hid it so that you don't eat the entire container before your guests get a chance to have some. This is probably the most important step.

**Per my friend's advice, I didn't use cookie sheets, I used my big non-stick roasting pan and I don't put the popcorn in a bowl but mix it in my big roasting pan to save on dishes. **

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