Make a Batch of Crunchy Caramel Popcorn for Halloween

©. K Martinko

This classic sugary treat is an old family favorite.

Every year around Halloween, I pull a small binder off my cookbook shelf and flip to the desserts section. At the very back is a handwritten card, titled, 'Grandma's Carmel Corn.' (Even though I'd spell it 'caramel,' there's something about my grandmother's quirky spelling that just sticks with the recipe.)

It's a recipe that my grandma, who's now 91, wrote out for me when I was little, after I gorged myself on a pan of caramel corn that she'd made. I've been making it ever since, always in the late fall, and my reaction to it hasn't changed; it's impossible to stop eating, and my kids now feel the same way. (That's also why we don't make it very often!)

The recipe, which I'll share below, is simple to make. The only challenge is being patient during the hour-long baking time, which is important to crisp up the kernels and make them sweet and crunchy without sticking in your teeth. This is one of those recipes that I suspect you'll make again and again after you've tried it once. Think of it as your own adult Halloween treat.

On a side note, I have just pulled two pans out of the oven, in honor of this post, and it will be the perfect snack to accompany our pumpkin carving later this afternoon, once the kids get home from school. Happy Halloween!

'Grandma's Carmel Corn'

  • 1 gallon of freshly popped corn, unseasoned
  • 1 cup peanuts, optional
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Place popcorn and peanuts in a bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together the sugar, butter, and syrup. Let simmer, stirring, for four minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt and baking soda. Look out because mixture will bubble up from soda. Working quickly, drizzle the caramel over the popcorn and stir to combine. Mix till every kernel is coated. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 200F for one hour. Stir partway through. Remove from oven and let cool. Break up chunks and enjoy.