Caramel Candy Corn

I’m working my way through some caramel recipe ideas that have been keeping me awake at night, and it hasn’t been a hardship for me at all; I love caramel! I don’t think I’ve ever met a bowl of caramel corn that I didn’t like, and this is no exception. Of course, I also love candy corn. If you’re not a fan (and I know there are some of you out there) you can substitute something else that screams “Fall” to you. Maybe Reeses Pieces? M&Ms? Black licorice? (Haha, got you there. Black licorice would be gross. I think. Hmm.)

I like lots of nuts in my caramel corn, so I used a generous amount of peanuts. Any nuts would be good, though. They have a tendency to stay at the bottom of the pan, so do try to encourage them to mingle with the popcorn. Of course, if you remember what Cracker Jack was like, the peanuts (all two of them) were always at the bottom of the box. Rebels!

A drizzle of melted white, yellow, and orange candy melts added to the festive autumn theme. Go lightly with melted white chocolate; it can overwhelm the flavor of the caramel, and you wouldn’t want to do that!

I use little pastry bags and melt the white chocolate in a glass of hot water. No mess!

The recipe calls for 4 quarts of popcorn, which may sound like a lot, but believe me—it really isn’t. This stuff has a tendency to disappear before your very eyes, and it stores well in an airtight container. I used mushroom popcorn because I wanted the big, round, fluffy kernels.

Speaking of recipes, do you see how short this one is? That’s because this is EASY. And oh, so satisfying. Do it! Seriously, just do it!

Caramel Candy Corn
  • 4 quarts popped corn
  • 1 cup peanuts (or any nut you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 10 each: white, yellow, and orange candy melts (optional)
  1. Grease a really large pot or bowl. (I use coconut oil.) Put popcorn and nuts in the pot and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Lightly grease a 12x18x2" cake pan - or two 9x12" pans. Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 225 F.
  4. In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, honey, water, and salt over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Drop heat to medium-low. Adjust as necessary to keep mixture gently boiling for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and baking soda and pour over the popcorn and nuts. Stir well.
  6. Scoop into the prepared baking pan(s) and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and stir in the candy corn. Dump out onto a piece of parchment or foil and allow caramel corn to cool completely.
  8. Melt each color of candy melt separately - either in small dishes in the microwave or by putting candy in small pastry bags or zip-type bags in a glass of hot water. (Don't let water touch the candy or it will seize up.) Drizzle over caramel corn. Let the drizzle harden before storing or serving.

Putting together the ingredients for the caramel.

Boil for 5 minutes without stirring

The baking soda will foam up. Just give it a few good stirs and pour it over the popcorn and nuts.

Stir hot caramel into popcorn

Spread into greased pan and bake.

I got this in just under the wire because tomorrow is October and I’m moving on . . . to maple. No pumpkin spice here, folks. We’re going for Maple Madness!



Triple Trouble Caramel Corn!

MiscNov 046I try to stay away from Google when I’m creating a recipe, because I don’t want to be influenced by other bakers’ methods or ingredients. When I’m happy with my recipe I take a peek, and am usually surprised (and yes, maybe a little discouraged) to find out how many other people have already made my “original” idea.

And RATS…it happened again.  I thought this was going to be at least a fairly new idea. My son, my husband and I were sitting around brainstorming ideas for caramel corn. (I love my caramel corn recipe, but it’s pretty basic, and I wanted something unusual.) I knew we were on a roll when the discussion turned to bacon. What goes with bacon? Maple, of course! And if you’re have maple, you must have pecans, right?

Caramel Corn with Maple, Bacon, and Pecans. Yeah, baby…come to Mama!
MiscNov 043

After we’d sampled it over and over and over, I checked the search engine, and pfffft – it’s been done. Sigh. I guess most things have already been done in one form or another – so I’ll just give you MY take on this tasty treat.

Triple Trouble Caramel Corn!
  • 6 quarts popped popcorn
  • 8 oz bacon (or more) chopped and cooked
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar (golden brown is fine, too!)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring (Watkins is good, but I prefer Mapleine)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. Heat oven to 250 F.
  2. Prepare two large, shallow pans by coating with cooking spray. (I used coconut oil instead, and it worked pretty well.)
  3. In a very large bowl or roasting pan, combine popcorn, cooked bacon, and pecans. Set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the brown sugar, honey, and salt. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil.
  5. Without stirring, allow the mixture to continue cooking at a low boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Stir in the maple flavoring and baking soda. (It will foam up a little.)
  7. Pour over the popcorn and stir to combine. Divide between the two pans, spreading the popcorn mixture as evenly as possible.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The mixture will seem soft when you're stirring it, but don't worry - it will crisp up nicely when it cools.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pans. Break apart.
  10. Store in airtight container.


Boil the sugar mixture for 5 minutes.

Boil the sugar mixture for 5 minutes.

Stir it into the popcorn, nuts and bacon.

Stir it into the popcorn, nuts and bacon. (If you’re making the bacon/maple/pecan version, this will look darker.)

Spread onto two greased baking pans.

Spread onto two greased baking pans.

Once you start eating it, you won't stop!

Once you start eating it, you won’t stop!

I implore you to cook up the popcorn in a big pan or an air popper. The stuff in the microwave bags is SO bad for you. I know, I know, butter and sugar aren’t exactly health foods, but at least they are real. The microwave bags have a coating inside that is really gross. It’s honestly not hard to make popcorn “from scratch”!

If you want the plain Jane version (just like Cracker Jack), substitute unsalted or lightly salted peanuts for the pecans, and skip the bacon. Use 1 teaspoon vanilla instead of the 1 tablespoon maple flavoring. Or…gussy it up with a variety of nuts. Almonds, cashews, walnuts…all are yummy.

I wish you could see my kitchen right now. I made a peanut batch first. Then I tried the maple/bacon/pecan batch, but wasn’t happy with it (maple syrup in the sugar solution didn’t work out well, and I chopped the bacon and pecans too small) so I tried again. Each of these batches makes about 5 quarts, so just picture 13 quarts (hey, we had to try some of it!) of caramel corn. Yikes! I’m going to have to find someone to give some of this to or else dig out my “fat pants.”

Think crisp cellophane bags with pretty ribbons and a little silk poinsettia. What a welcome hostess gift this would make!