I cannot believe I have not shared this recipe earlier, at least before I shared Parmesean Rosemary Popcorn.
When I was a teenager, I tried to make caramel popcorn by making the caramel recipe in Joy of Cooking and pouring it over the popcorn. We always had to eat it fast, because by morning, the brown sugar returned. Instead of caramel-coated kernels, they would be more like brown-sugar dusted.
When Michael and Paige were in nursery school (we were members of Cornerstone, a longstanding parent coop nursery school in Denton), one of the mothers brought homemade caramel popcorn to a school Halloween party.
It was incredible. I asked her what the secret was, and she said that after she made the caramel, she roasted it for an hour. Here's my version of her recipe:
3/4 to 1 cup popcorn, popped (about 10 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
Prepare a large bowl and a large cookie sheet by spraying with cooking oil. Pour the popped popcorn in the bowl.
Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium hit heat. Once the mixture is bubbling, do not stir, but wash down any crystals that stick to the side of the pan with a brush dipped in water. When you see a couple of wisps of smoke coming up from the caramel (after about 3-5 minutes of gentle boiling), immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir well to coat. Pour the coated kernels onto the cookie sheet and roast at 225 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.