Is it caramel corn time? :) Caramel corn is one of those treats that I make once in a while for my family. A year ago, I would have popped my popcorn, poured my coating over it, and put it in the oven for about an hour on low during the mixing process. During that time, I usually would forget to mix, making the process take longer :(, and would still not achieve a nice evenly coated corn. (I'll spare you the story about the year that I forgot it in the oven!) This method of cooking caramel corn has always bugged me, but I never went in search of a better way... But as fate would have it, a better way found me!
I purchase my popcorn from a local farmer, who also happens to work in our little post office in town. We were chatting one afternoon, and she mentioned how easy it was to make microwave caramel corn. Stop the press... It sounds like a shortcut is about to be revealed! And the only magic required, other than the microwave, was a simple brown bag!
Brown Bag Caramel Corn in the Microwave
4 quarts popped corn
1 c brown sugar
1 stick oleo (aka margarine or I use butter)
1/4 c Karo syrup
1/2 t salt
and for later use 1/2 t baking soda
Pop your popcorn and set it aside in a large bowl. (Can use cooking spray lighlty inside bowl for easier clean up.)
Melt together brown sugar, oleo, Karo syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, and boil 2 minutes stirring to prevent scorching. Take off burner and add 1/2 t baking soda. Stir well until it foams. Pour over popped corn and mix well. (* Note* Just get it to cover as good as you can. Some corn will not be completely covered, and the microwave heat will take care of that.) Put your corn in a brown paper grocery bag and fold over top a couple of times, place in the microwave, and cook on high 1 minute. *Caution* The bags contents will be hot. Take the bag out of the microwave and shake well. Turn bag over (I just lay it on its side.), and microwave for 1 minute on high. Shake a little more and quickly empty contents into a long pan while still hot. Spread out to cool.
Remember especially on the final cooking cycle, the bag will come out with very HOT oil spots. Some of the corn will stick to the inside of the bag. These remnants can be removed by hand. *Note* I have a small microwave, so if all I have is a regular size brown grocery bag, I end up cutting about 6 inches from the top before folding.
Here is a batch fresh from the bag. Not only is this a fast way to make caramel corn, but it is a wonderful way to have an even coating, allowing the cook to break apart the caramel corn without being left with big blobs. And even better, there is no risk of burning or over cooking. And if you are like me and pop too much corn, just make your coating batch a half size larger. ;)
After this pic, I spread the corn out on some cookie sheets to cool. If you have an empty ice cream tub, it works well for storing your caramel corn. Of course, we are lucky if it lasts a couple of nights around this house! ;)