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The sweet scent of caramel corn permeates my kitchen and transports me back in time. As a young child I remember shopping with my mom at Valley Fair Mall. Back in those days it was an outdoor mall anchored by big stores called the Emporium and Joseph Magnin. While walking from store to store, we would always pass a little caramel corn shop and be seduced by the smell wafting out of the door. My sister and I would beg our mom to stop and buy us some. Having a sweet tooth of her own, my mom usually consented. Carrying a cardboard carton bearing a capital “K”  filled to the brim with the most delicately-coated, buttery- sweet, caramel popcorn imaginable, my sister and I would lag behind mom while grabbing handfuls of the treat and stuffing our faces. Valley Fair is now an enclosed mall and the Emporium and Joseph Magnin stores are long gone, as is the little caramel corn shop whose name I can no longer remember. I make my own caramel corn now and it seems fitting that this great recipe came from my sister. With butter, brown sugar, and its secret ingredient – Mrs. Butterworth’s Original Syrup – it’s almost as good as the caramel corn of my youth!

Caramel Corn
Adapted from a recipe from my sister Nancy

Ingredients:
12 cups popped popcorn
1 cube butter
1/4 cup Mrs. Butterworth’s Original Syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup cocktail peanuts

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Put popped popcorn, Wheat Chex, and peanuts in a large bowl and toss to mix. Set aside.

4. Using a medium-large saucepan with high sides, melt the butter, syrup, and sugar on medium heat until bubbles form on the side of the pot. Heat for 5 minutes longer. DO NOT OVERCOOK!

5. Remove pot from heat and stir in salt and baking soda. The mixture will get foamy.

6. Pour caramel foam over popcorn mixture and quickly stir to coat evenly.

7. Spread mixture onto the two baking sheets.

8. Bake for one hour, stirring the caramel corn every 15 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

10. Store in an airtight container.

Linnell’s Notes:

1. Be very careful with the hot caramel. Being hot and sticky, it can cause a bad burn! One time I accidentally got some on my knuckle and ended up with a pretty significant burn blister.

2. If you do not want to add the cereal or the nuts, use 15 cups of popped popcorn instead. Also, any type of Chex-type cereal can be substituted for the Wheat Chex.

3. Containers of this caramel corn make great gifts. When my husband and I were poor college students we often made several big batches of this caramel corn, packaged it in cute containers and gave them away as Christmas gifts.

ENJOY!!

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