Traditional recipes for homemade caramel corn almost always call for the use of corn syrup. However, it is possible to make caramel corn without this ingredient. Molasses can be a sweet substitute. This recipe uses molasses instead of corn syrup and yields approximately six cups of caramel popcorn.
Things You'll Need
Large cookie sheet
Stick of butter
4 cups popcorn, popped
¼ cup roasted peanuts
Large mixing bowl
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons dark molasses
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Line the bottom of a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Rub the paper with a stick of butter to thoroughly grease the entire surface area.
Combine the popcorn and the peanuts in a large mixing bowl. Toss with your hands to ensure an even mixture. Set the bowl aside.
Combine the sugar, the molasses, and the honey in a large saucepan. Add the water and the one tablespoon of butter. Stir a few times to combine as much as possible.
Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, and place the pan on the stove on medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not stir while the popcorn is cooking.
Remove the pan from the stove, and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will begin to foam, but the foaming will cease in a few moments.
Once the foaming has stopped, whisk for a second or two, wait an additional five seconds, and then quickly pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and peanut mixture. Toss to evenly distribute the caramel mixture.
Pour the caramel corn mixture onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet, and spread it evenly using a spatula. Allow the caramel corn to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature.
Store the caramel corn in an airtight container, or cover it with plastic wrap. Store for up to three days, then discard any leftovers.
You may use unsalted peanuts, if necessary or desired, but you'll need to add a pinch of salt to the popcorn and peanut mixture to taste.
The caramel mixture will be very hot once it's removed from the heat. Be careful not to burn yourself while tossing with the popcorn. If necessary, use a large spoon or spatula to combine.