I got this recipe years ago from my friend Heather. Whenever she felt like she owed us a favor, one of her kids would show up on our doorstep with a huge bowl of chewy, buttery caramel corn. I have to say, getting paid in caramel corn is the way to go!
makes 1 big cookie sheet piled pretty high
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, which translates to about 24 cups of popped popcorn (I usually use microwaveable popcorn and just buy the blandest flavor I can find!)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
Pop popcorn and put it in a very large bowl. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and corn syrup, whisk, and cook over medium heat until it reaches soft ball stage, or 234-240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add vanilla, baking soda, and salt. The mixture will lighten in color and double in volume. Pour caramel over popcorn and stir gently with a big wooden spoon. Toss until all of the popcorn is evenly coated, then spread on a big cookie sheet to cool.