homemade caramel corn is much superior to anything you can buy in a package. Or at karmelkorn, for that matter. Once you know how to do it, you can play around with other flavorings, like cinnamon oil (use sparingly!) or other extracts.
- Combine the above in a 2-qt. saucepan, bring to boil (stirring to dissolve sugar completely).
- Continue boiling and stirring until syrup thickens and reaches the "hard-crack" stage -- consult the candy-making section of any comprehensive cookbook for description and candy-thermometer temperature.
- My method of determining readiness is when the syrup "makes threads" when dropped off the tip of a spoon or when a drop allowed to fall into a cup of cool tap water forms a ball instantly.
- It takes practice -- cook too long and the coating will be granular; cook not long enough and it'll be sticky.
- When the syrup reaches the desired stage, take it off the burner, immediately stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon baking soda (the soda interacts with the vinegar"s acidity and makes the syrup light and sort of foamy).
- Pour gradually over popped corn while stirring with a long-handled spoon to distribute the coating (or have someone else do the stirring or pouring).
- This stuff is very hot and will stick to you and inflict deep burns so be careful!.