I was browsing the recipe sections of butter websites, as one is wont to do if one is a southern baker, and came across a recipe for Praline Popcorn. I used their recipe with only minor alterations to make southern style caramel corn.
I use a LÉKUÉ microwave popcorn popper so I can make popcorn quickly, with less mess than on the stovetop but without the additives and extra salt and fat found in most commercial microwave popcorn. To pop enough for this recipe, I used ⅓ cup of kernels, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, ¼ teaspoon popcorn salt. It made more than eight cups but my dad kept stealing from the bowl, so I used what was left. The brown sugar/butter sauce will coat up to 10 cups of popcorn.
The pecans are lovely after being cooked slightly in the butter and brown sugar. The sweet caramel sauce added to the lightly salted popcorn makes a delicious treat.
Praline Pecan Popcorn
8 cups popped popcorn, lightly salted
1 cup pecans, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Place the popcorn in a large bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and add in the pecan pieces, stirring regularly.
After boiling for five minutes, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. It will bubble up but stir until the chemical reaction completes and then pour the hot sauce over the popcorn and toss to coat.
Transfer mixture to a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Sometimes it is easier to pour it back into the large bowl to stir. Return to the baking sheet and continue baking. After 30 minutes, spread out onto foil or parchment paper to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Once cool, break apart to eat.
Store any remaining praline pecan popcorn in an airtight zip top bag.