Friday September 24, 2010

Caramel Night Zone Act 1

caramel corn I love carnivals. The State Fair. The County Fair. Oktoberfest. From Autumn Festivals set up in the grassy roped off area of orchards to the dinky carnies sprawled across strip mall parking lots. Give me a cloudless night on a Ferris wheel with stars above, festival lights below, the sound of cotton candy powered kids screaming through the attractions, and fingers sticky with caramel corn. I love it.

I can’t say I entirely understand my fascination. As a child at the county fair in Lexington, I could throw a dart at a wall of balloons like nobody’s business and would rack up cheesy prizes by the armful. (My favorite, still proudly in my possession, is a pink tinted mirror etched with a super muscular, Fabio style unicorn, mane and tale billowing around its studly mass. Heck yeah!)

Or maybe it came from the countless hours I spent playing Sonic 3. I intentionally refrained from beating Carnival Night Zone just so I could keep listening to the ridiculously addictive freak show soundtrack. Even at 13, I felt it sounded suspiciously like Michael Jackson’s Jam, though no one I knew would admit it. I now see I’m not the only one to have made this connection.

As I grew older and my teenage crush on Bradbury reached its fever pitch, I imagined having Something Wicked This Way Comes-esque adventures at some mysterious carnival. No, I don’t want to know what that says about me.


My carnival food of choice: caramel corn in a red and white striped box, no peanuts. I could not get enough of those hot little clusters. The mere sound of the candy coated popcorn shells clicking against each other in the box sends me into a fit of Pavlovian salivation.

Click on the pix below to see the full sized versions. I hope you’ll pardon the mania and general goofiness of team BraveTart in the photos, we ate a lot of caramel corn beforehand. Sugar, sugar, sugar!

In keeping with its roots as a carnival/ballpark food, caramel corn is inexpensive to make and doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients.

There are a lot of recipes floating around out there for caramel corn but most of them fall into the “brown sugar corn” or “melted Kraft caramel cubes corn” category.

I’m not knocking that. I just gotta reason that caramel, by definition sugar which has undergone caramelization, should be an important part of the eponymous caramel corn. If a recipe doesn’t involve caramelized sugar, the result, however tasty, however approximate, does not deserve the name “caramel”.

Besides, caramel corn may top my list of stupidly easy things to make, right after ganache. Which sort of gives me an idea, brb.

Use this recipe and here’s what you’ll be snacking on before bed:

caramel corn

Okay, seriously. You probably have everything you need in the pantry right now. Go. Pop some popcorn. Boil some sugar syrup with some vanilla and butter. Add some salt. Mix the two together. Forever scoff that place at the mall that sells overpriced tins of flavored popcorns around the holidays.

posted byStellaand filed under:  Gluten Free  Lactose Free  Sideshow Photos  Vanilla

12 comments and counting

Sep 24, 2010 · 11:24 AM

I have been craving caramel popcorn like no one’s business. This sounds great!

 · Kaitlin ·

Sep 24, 2010 · 11:34 AM

So so easy. No whisks are involved, which may be a turn off for you… Also, the best topping for ice cream ever.


Sep 24, 2010 · 12:38 PM

my fiancée would go nuts over this caramel corn. any popcorn, really, but this in particular. thanks for popping over and commenting on squirrel bread — sign me up for the cocoa powder volcano viewing!

 · heather ·

Sep 24, 2010 ·  2:23 PM

I may have to do this, as soon as possible.

 · Mousey · 

Sep 25, 2010 ·  5:47 PM

Oh I was lucky to taste this popcorn ! the best one i ever tried and now i have a recipy ! thanks ,Stella!

 · olessya  · 

Nov 17, 2010 ·  2:47 PM

Gosh, your site is really incredible; always gorgeous photos and really unique take on recipes. I am not one for caramel corn, but now I remember that I’ve had homemade caramel corn once, and it was totally different from the dried out stuff you can buy at the store. Plus, your recipes says you can use maple syrup?! I shall try!

 · CinnamonQuill/ ·

Feb 18, 2012 ·  7:07 PM

Thanks for the awesome caramel popcorn recipe, it turned out great!

Here’s a link.

 · Ilan (IronWhisk Blog) ·

Feb 18, 2012 · 11:20 PM

@Ilan, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing your results. Your cake looks awesome, high five!


Sep 02, 2013 ·  1:18 PM

my boyfriend and i made this last night with some popcorn and peanut butter pretzels. then, not that it needed it but…we drizzled chocolate over it as the caramel hardened. so.freaking.good. your recipes always turn our perfect Stella! thank you!

 · megan · 

Sep 04, 2013 · 10:00 PM

Hi megan! Sooo…..where do you live again, cos I need to come get some of THAT! Thanks so much for the feedback on your experiment. I’m going to have a chocolate and white chocolate caramel corn recipe in my book, so we’ll have to trade notes sometime.



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