Caramel Corn Mix is one of my all-time favorite holiday treats. It's easy, tasty, and by far one of my most requested recipes. This is fabulous for taking in bulk to holiday gatherings, munching over game nights with the family, or packaging individually for teachers. I adapted this from an old Pampered Chef recipe and it turns out every time---no candy thermometers needed!
Here's your ingredients: (Pretend you see corn syrup in the picture, it was late to the photo shoot.)
4 cups rice square cereal
2 cups small pretzels
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
First mix the popcorn, cereal, pretzels and pecans in a roasting pan. I have an old PC stone I like to use; but glass works just as well.
Next combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil over the entire surface.
When it gets a full boil going, turn the heat down to medium low and walk away for 5 minutes. You are going to want to stir it, but resist the urge. Instead, step to the other side of the room, close your eyes and just smell the amazing aroma wafting from the pan. All of the gooey goodness will continue to bubble away forming a delicious caramel topping.
When your five minutes is up, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and baking soda. It's going to puff up a little, bubble and hiss. It's just being sassy.
As soon as it's combined, pour it over the popcorn mixture and stir until all your pieces are mostly coated. You probably won't be able to get them all covered yet, but that's okay. We'll do another stir later.
Pop that pan in a 300 degree oven and let it bake. When it's been in the oven for about 15 minutes, give it a good stir. See how gooey it's getting? That'll help you get any pieces you missed nice and coated.
After you've stirred it, pop it back in the oven for 15 more minutes. While that's baking up, tape some parchment paper down to your countertop. That'll be the landing strip for your melty, gooey, delectable treat. When those 15 minutes are up, pull out your pan and dump the mix onto your parchment. Spread it out a little with a spatula and let it cool. (Don't forget to taste test a few dozen pieces.)
When it's nice and cool, break into smaller pieces and package as desired. If I can package this before my family gets to it, I like to give it to Sunday School teachers, mailmen, neighbors, and all of the other wonderful people in my life around the holidays. Enjoy!