My first year of college, my dorm mom, Sister Mabel, would invite the girls to her room for an evening of caramel popcorn and good conversation. She graciously shared her recipe with us, and it has become my favorite caramel popcorn recipe.
Sister Mabel's Caramel Popcorn
6 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 lb. butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup
2 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place popcorn in large, 4-inch deep buttered baking pan. (A turkey roaster is perfect.) Keep warm in oven.
In a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cream of tartar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda. (John always helps me with this step, measuring out the baking soda for me just before the five minutes are up. The conversation is the same every time. John: "How much baking soda do you need?" Me: "One teaspoon." John: "Heaping?" Then both of us laugh at the joke that never grows old. In fact, because it is a tradition, it grows funnier every year.)
Remove popcorn from oven, and pour caramel mixture over the popcorn. Stir gently until well-coated. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Thanks for Sister Mabel, and her wonderful caramel popcorn.