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Baked Caramel Popcorn

A Historically Tasty Winter Treat

Article by Adriana Von Helms

Photography by Adriana Von Helms

Originally published in Billings Lifestyle

It’s the new year and I think more than ever we are looking for an excuse to gather, laugh, and enjoy warm company. Here is a recipe to add to your 2021 festivities, something to fill your kitchen with a bit of sweet ‘n salty— Baked Caramel Popcorn.

This festive treat can be traced back a few hundred years. Based on historical accounts, kettle corn and salted popcorn had long been enjoyed by the Dutch who came to America in the late 1700s. During holidays and special occasions, popcorn was in high demand. In 1870, two brothers named Frederick and Louis Rueckheim immigrated to the United States from Germany. They opened a popcorn shop in the middle of Chicago and began experimenting with flavors. The magic happened when they mixed popcorn, peanuts and molasses. It quickly became a hit!

Story goes that one customer exclaimed “That’s a crackerjack!” the moment he tasted their invention. The name stayed and around 1893, the Rueckheim brothers patented Cracker Jack. Since then, various recipes have emerged including our simple but beloved caramel corn.

Popcorn is no stranger to Billings. From companies like Ceci’s Popcorn to Big Sky Kettle Corn, Montana and caramel corn go hand in hand. But perhaps this new year you can give the popular snack your own spin. Follow the simple recipe below. It is a family favorite and trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Family recipe of Baked Caramel Corn

1 cup butter

2 cups dark brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

6 qts. Popcorn

1 cup of un-popped. Pop in ½ cup batches

Spread popped corn on 2 rimmed baking sheets. In a saucepan, bring toa. Boil butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and add soda and vanilla. Pour over popcorn. Bake at 250 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from pans and gently toss in a large bowl until cooled. Store in an airtight container.

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