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Caramel Popcorn


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104 replies to this topic

#31 maggiethecat

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Posted 16 December 2002 - 12:30 AM

Broke, exhausted after a day shopping at the Very Upscale Mall(Oakbrook), His Handsomeness and I were talking about all those we *still* had no present for. Saith he:

"I'll buy some tins tomorrow and you make more of that eGullet Lady's caramel corn. Everyone will like that!"

Thanks, girlfriend! I will.

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#32 Suzanne F

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Posted 16 December 2002 - 08:12 AM

Chefette, I'm so glad you finally explained the caramel corn part of your dessert demo! I was wondering ... and now, to find out it's that simple!! Thanks. :biggrin:

#33 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 16 December 2002 - 08:37 AM

No butter and no mixing an unweildy mass of popped corn and hot caramel?! I have to try this, just for the experiment value.

#34 mamster

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Posted 22 December 2002 - 06:47 PM

We made Jaymes's caramel corn last night (okay, Laurie did most of the work, although I got to stir a few times), and it is a treat. I've just finished bagging it up to give as gifts at work, which was fun because I kept missing the bag and being forced to eat the sugar-napped corn and pecans that spilled on the counter.

Next time I think a little cayenne pepper would be great. The only danger here is that I'm going to start confusing Jaymes's carnitas and caramel corn recipes and try to pop pork.
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#35 Priscilla

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 10:13 PM

OK, I made Jaymes's Caramel Corn this evening. Everyone is correct--what a good recipe--thank you so much, Jaymes! Those clear instructions are a gift. What a treat and fun to make.

I used peanuts in this batch, for a Cracker-Jacksy flavor profile, because some of it I'm bringing to my Mom and she's got a lot of nostalgia for how Cracker Jacks tasted when she was a little girl. I predict she'll be pleasantly surprised.

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#36 Suvir Saran

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Posted 25 December 2002 - 12:12 AM

OK, I made Jaymes's Caramel Corn this evening.  Everyone is correct--what a good recipe--thank you so much, Jaymes!  Those clear instructions are a gift.  What a treat and fun to make.

I used peanuts in this batch, for a Cracker-Jacksy flavor profile, because some of it I'm bringing to my Mom and she's got a lot of nostalgia for how Cracker Jacks tasted when she was a little girl.  I predict she'll be pleasantly surprised.

Priscilla, I took Jaymes caramel corn to a friend and she was taken back into time. She was thrilled. I will have to make more. It is indeed a great recipe.
I will actually, also try Chefettes recipe, the caramel pop corn chefette made in Javits Center was superb.

#37 johnjohn

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Posted 25 December 2002 - 09:14 AM

What type of pan did people use. Jaymes uses a large shallow pan or a big stainless steel bowl. I have neither - I do have two cookie sheets - could I use those. Or I was thinking about getting a large disposable roaster pan - would that work?

johnjohn

#38 Jaymes

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Posted 25 December 2002 - 01:35 PM

What type of pan did people use.  Jaymes uses a large shallow pan or a big stainless steel bowl.  I have neither - I do have two cookie sheets - could I use those.  Or I was thinking about getting a large disposable roaster pan - would that work?

johnjohn

A large disposable roaster would work. See how much it holds. You might need two of them. Seems to me when I first started making this, I made it in a turkey roaster, but I had to do two batches. I just wanted to make it in one batch, which is when I bought the big stainless bowl.

But that roaster is a good idea, and it would certainly simplify cleanup! :rolleyes:

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#39 Malawry

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Posted 25 December 2002 - 05:47 PM

I have a large roasting pan plus a big Pyrex casserole that's about the size of a half-sheet pan, only it has 2" sides. I split the batch between the two and baked them together.

Attempt #2 tonight. This time I used light brown sugar and only 1 tbsp molasses. Much lighter in color and flavor than the last batch, and closer to what I was seeking...but still not right. Next I will be attempting Chefette's technique, and perhaps the popcorn balls after that. The popcorn balls seem TOO sticky...I don't want actively sticky, I just want the popcorn to stick in smallish clumps.

#40 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 26 December 2002 - 09:48 AM

I place about 300g of sugar and just a bit of water in a heavy saucepan (that has a cover with it) and cook it to soft ball, I then toss in about 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels and stir them around.  They will suddenly start blossoming just at the caramel stage.  At this point for your own self protection you will want to put the top on and start madly shaking the pan around.  When it stops making popping noises you open up, stir the corn around a minute or two to deepen the caramel color and pour our onto a sheet pan.  If you do not move it around until it hardens it will stick together in big clumps than you need to break up.  Then you can toss in a handful of nuts or whatever if you want.  You could even caramelize them along with the corn in the first place.

I made Chefette's version yesterday. It reminds me of Cracker Jack or Sugar Smacks cereal. Simple to do, but I want a little more buttery flavor. At what point could I add butter to the pan so that it won't burn? I'm thinking heat the sugar, add the corn, when the first kernal pops, just before putting on the lid, I could add a knob of butter. Would that work? Also, how much is "a bit of water"?

#41 chefette

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 08:18 AM

A bit of water - use about 100g (1/2 cup) of water.

I think that if you wish to add butter (consider spraying with butter flavor crisco before you dump it out of the pan for fat free), or after you uncover the pot plop in a tablespoon of butter while you develop the caramel.

I have not tried it with butter.

#42 Suvir Saran

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 09:02 AM

How would a home chef know what a soft ball stage is? :unsure:

#43 snowangel

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 12:47 PM

How would a home chef know  what a soft ball stage is? :unsure:

I'm sure you that most candy thermometer's have a soft ball stage marking, but I learned by dropping a blob into a glass of ice water, then working it between my fingers to see if it is soft ball. If you've gone way, way over, you'll know because the stuff will just harden into crystal-type, if you haven't gone far enough, it will just dissolve. (Yes, my grandmother taught me how to do this when I was about 5. She said that a candy thermometer was just another tool to junk up a drawer.)
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#44 Jaymes

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 01:01 PM

How would a home chef know  what a soft ball stage is? :unsure:

Get a glass cup (I have aways used a measuring cup because it's there and handy when I'm cooking) and put some cold water in it. Drizzle a little bit of your candy into the cold water. If the candy just dissipates into the water, it's nothing.

If the drizzle holds together, that is the "thread" stage.

Now, stick your fingers in and try to mash the candy into a "soft ball." When it holds together and forms a soft ball, that's soft ball stage. It should feel kind of the consistancy of clay, or Play Doh.

When it forms a hard ball, hard enough that if you knock it against the side of the cup you can hear a crack, well, that's "hard ball" stage.

I, too, have been doing this since I was about five.
:rolleyes:


And Rachel - since you want it to taste buttery, why don't you try my recipe? It really isn't much work at all, and in fact, is kind of fun.

If it does turn out to be a bigger deal than you want, you can always go back to experimenting with adding stuff to Chefette's.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#45 suzycooks

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 08:15 PM

Un-lurking to say I made Jaymes caramel corn as a gift for my brothers and sisters for Christmas. My S.O. loved it so much that I had to make 3 batches to have enough for gifts. She ate it as fast as I made it. The brothers and sisters loved it to. Even the dog loved it , every time the timer went off to stir it she was in the kitchen before me waiting for the few kernnels that droped on the floor when stirring.(I need a bigger pan )

Back to lurking.

P.S. Thanks Jaymes for the recipe.

#46 Suvir Saran

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Posted 27 December 2002 - 11:38 PM

Un-lurking to say I made Jaymes caramel corn as a gift for my brothers and sisters for Christmas. My S.O. loved it so much that I had to make 3 batches to have enough for gifts. She ate it as fast as I made it. The brothers and sisters loved it to. Even the dog loved it , every time the timer went off to stir it she was in the kitchen before me waiting for the few kernnels that droped on the floor when stirring.(I need a bigger pan )

Back to lurking.

P.S. Thanks Jaymes for the recipe.

What a great compliment. :smile:

What other recipes have you been trying Suzycooks? Maybe you ought to un-lurk and share about those experiences in the relevant threads. It seems you may have some great experiences to share.

Jaymes's popcorn brought great joy to a friend I made it for. She is still singing praises. And I get kisser for having made it... Thanks Jaymes. :biggrin:

#47 nightscotsman

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 12:59 AM

I hate to say it, but I'm having a problem with the caramel popcorn. The first stir after putting it in the oven, the caramel crystalizes and becomes all grainy. I keep expecting the sugar to remelt and form a glaze, but after about 1 hour 20 minutes it's just starting to taste burnt. Should the final texture of the coating be grainy? I was really hoping for a glossy, smooth caramel. I'm wondering if it might have to do with the brown sugar. Could I ask what brand you are using, Jaymes?

#48 Jaymes

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 06:00 PM

Un-lurking to say I made Jaymes caramel corn as a gift for my brothers and sisters for Christmas. My S.O. loved it so much that I had to make 3 batches to have enough for gifts. She ate it as fast as I made it. The brothers and sisters loved it to. Even the dog loved it , every time the timer went off to stir it she was in the kitchen before me waiting for the few kernnels that droped on the floor when stirring.(I need a bigger pan )

Back to lurking.

P.S. Thanks Jaymes for the recipe.

Wow. Un-lurking! That's high praise, indeed.

You know, there are just always a few recipes that are such great fun to make, and fun to eat - kind of sets a festive mood as soon as you see it. This recipe has always been that for my family. I am really pleased that it is working out that way for others as well.

And, I agree with Suvir - Suzycooks - won't you make at least a few more posts about other recipes you make and enjoy??


And, Nightscotsman - I'm mystified. It's not supposed to be grainy at all. And mine has never come out that way. I just checked in my cabinet and I currently have C&H brown sugar, but as I've already said, I've been making this recipe for decades, and never had that problem. I have lived places where the only brand of brown sugar I could get was some peculiar brand that I'd never heard of, with names I couldn't even pronounce.

So, I don't know. Maybe you cooked the caramel too long or at too high heat before you poured it over the corn. It shouldn't be crystalizing, exactly. I don't know what to tell you. I've never had that problem. :unsure:

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#49 MaggieW

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 10:13 AM

I lurk more than I post, but I wanted to tell you Jaymes that I made the caramel corn and took it to my office potluck. I think I am a pretty good cook, but have never taken anything to a potluck and been the 'star' until now.

I bought a can of deluxe mixed nuts without peanuts and used that. So there were big brazil nuts and cashews and pecans and almonbds and everything.

I also went to a candy store and got some of those small whitge bags so people could take some home, but there wasn't any left over at all!

And for the first time, I was the 'star' of the potluck. :blush: Thank you very much and I know I'll be making this recfipe a lot!

You said that you can add chile powder and someone mentioned adding ceyenne. I might try that, or putting in some hot sauce sometime.

#50 Malawry

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Posted 01 January 2003 - 09:48 AM

I made another batch last night. I fixed half of it as usual and the other half I spiked with cayenne and chili powder plus a little cinnamon. I took the two types of popcorn to a new year's party. Both went over quite well, I think the beer-drinkers especially liked the spiced caramel popcorn.

#51 Kerry Beal

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 06:45 PM

On a boring Saturday night, nothing much happening on eG - waiting to hear reports from the big Silver City extravaganza - I went back to the first page of the Pastry and Baking forums and found this gem.

Jaymes, this recipe rocks. This is the one I've been searching for. Every time I've attempted to copy poppycock or fiddle faddle for my husband - he's said "no that's not what I want". I think this one is going to do it. It's still a little warm, but it tastes pretty fabulous to me.

And only one burn - just as the last two caramel burns on my other fingers are starting to heal up.

#52 Jaymes

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 06:06 AM

On a boring Saturday night, nothing much happening on eG - waiting to hear reports from the big Silver City extravaganza - I went back to the first page of the Pastry and Baking forums and found this gem.

Jaymes, this recipe rocks.  This is the one I've been searching for.  Every time I've attempted to copy poppycock or fiddle faddle for my husband - he's said "no that's not what I want".  I think this one is going to do it.  It's still a little warm, but it tastes pretty fabulous to me.

And only one burn - just as the last two caramel burns on my other fingers are starting to heal up.

View Post



Thanks for letting me know! :rolleyes:

It's been a favorite in my kitchen for many, many years. It's what I often give out for gifts in the neighborhood at Christmastime, and it's now a "regular" at our yearly church bakesale. We love the stuff.

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#53 jfield

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:05 AM

Hello. I am new here and have been enjoying this thread. I like the idea for making caramel corn during the popping process!

This thread brings back memories--I made spiced caramel corn at least twice a week (20 quarts at a time) as a bar snack at the old restaurant where I was pastry sous chef. I'm posting this for the first time. It is spicy. It is sweet. It is caramel-y and delicious. We had folks coming in just to get the popcorn. Warning: this stuff is like crack, so be careful:-) This recipe is more along the lines of a kicked up Fiddle Faddle than Cracker Jack, so it's nice for non-molasses-y people.

This recipe is my base for the restaurant, but you can easily scale it up or down, depending on how much you want.

Spiced Caramel Corn

3 1/2 cups mushroom popcorn, popped
4 cups spiced pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
20 oz. unsalted butter
30.5 oz. dark brown sugar
3 1/2 T. salt--yes, tablespoons.
1 1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/4 t. baking soda

Spread popped popcorn evenly in 3 hotel pans coated with pan spray. Divide spiced pumpkin seeds evenly over the popcorn. In a large, heavy pot, bring corn syrup, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cayenne and paprika to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the baking soda. Stir and stir. The mixture will foam up and look like caramel shaving cream.

When it's evenly shaving creamy, pour mixture evenly over popped corn and stir as well as you can with a large spatula. Place in a 225 degree oven (this is for convection, so you could go with 250 if you're using a standard oven) for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Every 20 minutes or so, give the pans a careful but thorough stir. Remove from oven, stir again, and then again to keep the popcorn from becoming one monolithic hotel pan shaped ball o' corn.

Eat and store the leftovers. I used to get dessicant packs to throw in the storage Cambro to keep the popcorn crisp and fresh (the restaurant was in hot and humid Florida).

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

I'd make an enormous batch at once. No real measurements here--the goal is to get all of the seeds evenly coated but not gloppy with eggwhite.

Brown sugar
salt
cumin
chili powder
orange zest
egg white.

Whisk ingredients together. Add pumpkin seeds (or any nut would be just fine). Spread in thin layer on Silpat-lined baking sheet(s). Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir and bake a few minutes more. Nuts are done when they are lightly golden brown. Cool and break apart. If the egg white is still a little gooey in the center, bake a couple of minutes more, but watch them so they don't burn.
You could also leave out the spices and reduce the salt a bit for a more traditional caramel corn. The increase in salt makes it more addictive, plus folks at the bar would order more cold beverages when eating it.

I hope you try this stuff. It is amazingly good.
Jenni
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"We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home."

#54 Kim Shook

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:15 AM

Just found this thread last week - I made Jaymes' caramel corn on Sunday. It was gone last night! Fantastic. I can see me making lots of this in the future, Jaymes! Just excellent. I put it on my webpage, duly credited to you, of course! :wub: :wub:

Without really thinking about it I baked the caramel corn on one shelf with a big pan of Benton's bacon baking away on the bottom shelf. The corn picked up a little smokiness. Nice surprise.

Edited by Kim Shook, 09 September 2008 - 08:26 AM.


#55 Truffle Guy

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 04:40 PM

We mainly do chocolates but one of our best sellers is our caramel corns which are loaded with chocolate. Because of the humidity I cook the sugar to a pretty high temp and it becomes more like a brittle. When mixing in a large bowl, I keep the bowl over low eat so the caramel doesn't harden too fast. Here is my favorite

350 grams Sugar
160 grams Glucose
120 grams Honey
2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Baking Soda
140 grams toasted Macadamia Nuts
50 grams toasted Coconut Chips
15 cups Popcorn


1. Toast the Macadamia Nuts then Coconut Chips (use the large flaky ones)
2. Combine sugar, glucose and honey and cook to 330 F
3. When the sugar hits 330 F add the vanilla extract and then the Baking Soda and stir thoroughly (be careful it will rise)
4. Working quickly, pour the caramel over the popcorn, macadamia nuts and coconut and stir until coated well. Keep the bowl over low heat so the caramel doesn't harden. Flatten the popcorn on a Silpat using another silpat (won't burn as bad) or a rolling pin.
5. After the popcorn is cooled dredge the corn with tempered white chocolate
6. Enjoy.

#56 Overlordofpastry

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 11:41 AM

Jaymes, I have never actually made caramel popcorn before and your recipe looks very good. I just have a question before I try making it. When you are boiling the sugar and butter mixture for 5 minutes, does it need to reach a certain temperature or sugar stage such as softball? Or are you simply cooking it to a caramel stage?

#57 PopsicleToze

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:46 AM

Jaymes, I have never actually made caramel popcorn before and your recipe looks very good. I just have a question before I try making it. When you are boiling the sugar and butter mixture for 5 minutes, does it need to reach a certain temperature or sugar stage such as softball? Or are you simply cooking it to a caramel stage?

View Post


I just made Jaymes caramel popcorn this weekend (and it was delicious, thank you Mr. Jaymes!) and I had the same question, but I was making peanut brittle, too, and that had to be cooked until the hardball stage @ 254 deg F, so that's what I did and it worked great. The popcorn wasn't covered completely by the syrup mixture, but I think I used a bit too much popcorn. It didn't matter because the popcorn was sooooooooooo veeeeeery good. It was a big hit at my pumpkin carving party!

#58 Jaymes

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 12:11 PM

Jaymes, I have never actually made caramel popcorn before and your recipe looks very good. I just have a question before I try making it. When you are boiling the sugar and butter mixture for 5 minutes, does it need to reach a certain temperature or sugar stage such as softball? Or are you simply cooking it to a caramel stage?

View Post


I just made Jaymes caramel popcorn this weekend (and it was delicious, thank you Mr. Jaymes!) and I had the same question, but I was making peanut brittle, too, and that had to be cooked until the hardball stage @ 254 deg F, so that's what I did and it worked great. The popcorn wasn't covered completely by the syrup mixture, but I think I used a bit too much popcorn. It didn't matter because the popcorn was sooooooooooo veeeeeery good. It was a big hit at my pumpkin carving party!

View Post


I'm sure that the syrup for the caramel corn does have to reach a certain temperature/stage, but my grandmother always timed it, and that works great, so I've never felt the need to try any other method. I suppose I could stick a candy thermometer in there and see what it is when you hit the five-minute point.

But hey, if it ain't broke....

You know?

"KNOWLEDGE TENDS TO ELEVATE THE HORSES" - cdh


#59 JAZ

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:28 PM

I've been using basically the same recipe that Jaymes uses for 25 years, and mine says exactly the same thing: "boil for 5 minutes." Works fine.

The (minor) differences between mine and Jaymes' are:
  • Mine doesn't call for salt (on the other hand, my mother, from whom I got this recipe, always used salted butter).
  • It calls for a teaspoon of cream of tartar. It's my understanding that this helps ensure a crisp product.
  • My recipe doesn't call for an addition of vanilla -- that sounds great; I'll have to try it.
  • I use dark corn syrup and no molasses, but I imagine that's a wash.
  • The recipe I use calls for adding nuts (roasted & salted) when you're tossing the popcorn with the caramel.
I never used to make this with nuts, but recently I've tried it that way. It seems that no matter what I do, the nuts seem to sink to the bottom of the roasting pan. I'd like for them to become one with the popcorn. Any tricks to help that?

The spiced versions sound wonderful too. I'll have to try them.

(Oh, and now that silpats have been invented, I'm all over using them instead of waxed paper.)

#60 Kerry Beal

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:44 PM

Five minutes gives you about 115º C.

Two batches made last week - I forgot the corn syrup in the first, which made for an almost crystalline product where each kernel and nut were separate - and in the second I forgot to add the vanilla and baking soda before coating the corn - but quickly sprinkling it over and giving it a good mix resulted in perfect corn.