So this recipe is infinitely more chewy than my kettle corn. It's definitely not a snack you want to eat before going to any event in which caramel kernels in your teeth are a liability. It is however, a snack you want to eat when you want something sweet and crunchy. My daughter, not yet two, kept raising her hand up and saying "Ko-corn!!! Ko-corn!!" This girl knows good food when she tastes it. It'll swear you off those prefab tins of caramel corn for life.
Adapted from Annie's Eats
1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pop popcorn using your preferred method. I use the stovetop. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl or two. Make sure there is enough room for tossing the popcorn.
Preheat the oven to 250° F.
To make the caramel, melt the butter in a good sized saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
Once boiling, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Hands are not a good tool for this- hot!!!
Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Clumpiness is ok, just means a big mouthful later.... Bake for 40-50 minutes. You can stir every ten minutes is clumping offends you. I skipped that. After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn. It should be mush-free; bake for 10 more minutes if not.
Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.