I recently survived a week that was full of a few more "tricks" than "treats." Yes, one of those weeks that is riddled with aggravations and frazzle-inducing moments. My children all came down with strep throat so three trips to the pediatrician (on separate days, of course) were in order. My minivan would not start one morning. And, to top it off, a bat flew into our vented range hood. He may have carefully timed his visit to coincide with Halloween, but he was an unwelcome guest!
Things began to look up once we made it through the week. The antibiotics kicked in, my vehicle was humming along once again and our vent was bat-free, thanks to our neighbor’s brave extraction talents. I decided some fun was in order in the form of a festive Halloween treat.
Trick-Or-Treat Caramel Corn sounded like a fabulous choice. How can you go wrong with candy corn as an ingredient? This sweet and savory mix also includes popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and candy-coated milk chocolate pieces. The caramel mixture consists of butter, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, salt and some baking soda.
To start, heat your oven to 200°F.
In a large roasting pan (the size you use for your Thanksgiving turkey), combine the popcorn and pretzels. My daughter, Ella, helped with this task.
You can use store purchased pre-popped corn or pop you own using your favorite method. Dare I admit that I had never popped my own corn on the stovetop? The microwave has always been my go-to method. A quick Google search yielded easy instructions for the stovetop method and some really tasty results.
Set the popcorn and pretzel combo aside and get started on the caramel mixture. Combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a 2-quart saucepan.
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a full boil. Monitor this step carefully. The directions state that it should take 18 to 20 minutes, but my mixture boiled much sooner. I might have cooked it on a little higher heat than what I should have.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reaches 240°F. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes. If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can drop a small amount of the mixture into ice water. If it forms a soft ball, it is ready.
Remove the caramel mixture from the heat and stir in the baking soda.
The baking soda helps prevent the ingredients from clumping together once the caramel is mixed in.
Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and pretzels.
Sprinkle the peanuts over the top. Then, stir until all the ingredients are well coated.
Bake the caramel corn for 20 minutes. Stir.
Continue baking for 20 more minutes.
Stir in the chocolate pieces and candy corn. I wondered how the candy would hold up, but the low baking temperature prevents the candy from melting.
Continue baking the mixture for 5 more minutes.
Immediately spread the caramel corn onto waxed paper. Once it is cool, store the treat in a tightly covered container.
This caramel corn tastes divine! Even better, the recipe makes 26 cups, so there is plenty to share. Spread the goodness around! I found cute autumn labels (available to Simple Rewards members on the Land O’Lakes website) and divided the caramel corn into smaller portions.
I shared with my friend, who cares for my daughter on the mornings I work. My husband’s co-worker from Ghana enjoyed his first taste of caramel corn. My son’s bus driver appreciated his portion. My picky 3-year-old nephew even got excited. "I’ll eat the pretzels, Auntie!" he exclaimed.
Sharing Trick-Or-Treat Caramel Corn lifted my spirits after a stressful week. I will be making more soon. My family is clamoring for another batch. Plus, there are people we left out on Round 1 of Operation Caramel Corn Distribution. That includes our neighbor, who boldly rescued us from our bat intruder. I think he deserves an extra large portion!
Try Trick-Or-Treat Caramel Corn for yourself, and make sure to rate and review the recipe.
Check back in a few days when Alex will share another great Halloween recipe.
Tami is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.