I made another variation on caramel corn over the holidays, and this recipe is definitely my favorite! This recipe uses more brown sugar than the Orange Pecan version, so it takes a little longer to bake. Be sure to watch it carefully so the glaze doesn't get burnt.
I tossed a bag of Heath Bar pieces over the caramel corn when it was done baking. It didn't look too great when I added it, but it really made a nice light chocolaty coating with the bits of toffee. When I made a second batch I mistakenly got a bag of Heath Bits of Brickle which I discovered is NOT the same thing! No chocolate! I ended up tossing the caramel corn with some semi sweet pieces, but I didn't like the end result as well.
I also tried this recipe with cashews, but I found that they burnt if they were added to the caramel corn at the beginning. Next time I would add them midway through the baking process.
Be sure to check out my list of caramel corn hints that I posted earlier - I discovered a lot of other helpful suggestions that can help make the process easier!
I put the the caramel corn in cute Christmas food bags labeled with tags from the dollar store and then put several different varieties into a larger gift bag as a tasty gift!
Chocolate Toffee Caramel Corn
12 - 13 cups popped corn
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 package Heath Bar Pieces (not the Brickle Bits)
1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Make your popcorn and lightly salt it. Line 2 heavy pans with tall sides with parchment paper. Spread the popcorn into the two pans, being sure to remove any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with the nuts.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a full boil, then boil for 2 minutes (I use the timer on my iPhone!), stirring every so often. Remove from heat.
3. Add the vanilla and baking soda. Stir thoroughly- the baking soda will make the caramel foam up and turn a light color.
4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn. Turn the popcorn gently with a spatula - it works much better than a spoon. Don't worry if the popcorn isn't totally coated. The caramel melts in the oven and as you turn it, it will continue to coat the popcorn.
5. Put the pans in the middle of the oven. Every 10 minutes, turn the popcorn. Use your spatula to scrape the glaze off the bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn, and gently flip the popcorn over, distributing the caramel over all the popcorn. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. It is very important to turn the popcorn frequently, or the caramel will have a burnt flavor.
4. To check if the caramel corn is done, do a crunch test. Take out a piece and let it cool completely. Then taste. If it is chewy and sticks to your fillings, give it a bit more time. If it is crisp and crunchy, it is done!
5. I made a large "pan" out of heavy foil to cool the caramel corn. I turned up the sides of the foil to create edges and sprayed the foil lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle the caramel corn with the Heath Bar Pieces. Then turn the caramel corn onto the foil and spread and separate the chunks. Cool. (You may need to put it in a cool place to get the chocolate to harden - either the frig or stick it outside for a bit if you live in a cold place.) Store in a covered container.