Welcome back bakers! I was looking in my pantry trying to figure out what I could make that wouldn’t require me to go shopping. I saw the box of buttery popcorn and knew I had to make something with it. Salty and sweet hits all the right notes with me, so caramel popcorn clusters were born! Let’s get right to recipe, as I like to do. Make sure you keep reading after for all the rest of the details you need!
Caramel Popcorn Clusters
- silicone baking mat
- sheet pan
- rubber spatula
- 1 Bag Microwave popcorn or 5 cups popped corn
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter cut into cubes
- Pop your popcorn according to the instructions on the package.
- Line a sheet pan with a silicone baking mat, and spread popcorn out onto it.
- Preheat your oven to 235°
- Put your sugar into the pot and set the heat to medium.
- Once a bit of sugar has started to melt, turn the sugar over in the pot and continue to melt, and turn over, every time you see the sugar starting to melt.
- Once the sugar is completely melted allow it so become a light amber color and remove from the stove.
- Place your popcorn into the oven.
- Put the butter into the caramel pot, and whisk until you have a smooth lucious caramel. The caramel will bubble up and go crazy, this is normal.
- Quickly grab your popcorn from the oven and pour the caramel over it.
- Use your spatula to turn the popcorn over, like you’re turning the page of a book, do this unitil you notice your caramel getting firm and than put it back into the oven.
- Set a timer for 6 minutes, and keep turning your popcorn oven until you have coated all the corn, than let your popcorn set on the counter.
- Break the cooled caramel corn into bite size clusters and enjoy!
If you didn’t already know, I’m writing this while crunching on this popcorn. It’s so good!
Okay, let’s get to the extra details you might need so you can get going and make this. You won’t be sorry you did, and I bet you will be making this for years to come.
First things first let’s talk about the endless thing you can add to this! Pretty much anything that goes well with caramel, my personal favorites would be;
Nuts like peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts or any nut you like.
Candy like chocolate chips, M&ms, Reese’s pieces, mini peanut butter cups, Bunch-a-Crunch, chopped up Kit-Kate or Twix.
Other snacks like pretzels, potato chips, Chex cereal, chopped Oreos, I think you get the point that honestly there is not much I wouldn’t toss into this mix.
When to add these extra mix-ins is the question you need answered. Nuts should be roasted lightly in a frying pan over a medium low heat until they start to release a fragrance. Than add them to the sheet pan with the popcorn before you begin adding the caramel, this will ensure they get a nice coating of caramel too.
Now for the chocolates, and other snacks, you won’t want to add them to the sheet pan or they will melt in the oven (honestly that might not be such a bad thing, but it won’t look pretty). You will want to add them to the sheet pan while you are making your last folds of the popcorn while it’s still warm and sticky. If you want to just toss it into the container with the finished and cooled product that would be okay too. The non melting snacks can be added a little sooner because they will survive the oven, so you can make sure they get a little caramel action too. I would add them after my first 2 folds.
What to do with this popcorn?
So.. what can you do with these caramel popcorn clusters besides stuff them into your mouth? How about making adorable party favors for a baby shower? This is perfect for your kids sleep over, or a girls night in. Check out this Pinterest board I made with all the possibilities.
Now for some tips.. When I am making my caramel, I don’t use a thermometer. I make a little well in the center of the sugar so I can see when the melting has started and I know its time to give it a stir. Don’t walk away when you’re making caramel.. trust me.
Just stir when there is some liquid sugar, and than leave it to become liquid again. You don’t want to sit there stirring it, you should only stir it 3-4 times before the sugar is all melted in.
You’ll want to use a pot that you can whisk in with a metal whisk and not damage your pot. ( I did not do this and so I whisked with my spatula, 10 out of 10 do not recommend)
I really think this is everything you’re going to need to make the recipe and have success with it.