Sweet and salty homemade chocolate caramel corn is the perfect big batch homemade food gift. Make one pan and have several gifts ready to go!
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Anybody ever get those giant tins of popcorn for Christmas? Like the ones with like 3 or 4 different kinds of flavored popcorn. Someone my grandpa knew always got him one of those big tins and there was usually cheese popcorn and caramel corn and sometimes plain popcorn that nobody ate until it was the only thing left. If you were lucky, there was chocolate caramel corn which is basically caramel corn drizzled with white and dark chocolate. It would clump together in the most delicious way.
This is a riff off of my sweet and crunchy caramel corn, which on its own is quite excellent but I think adding the chocolate takes it to the next level. The gift giving level.
Ingredients for Chocolate Caramel Corn:
- Brown Sugar-the molasses in the brown sugar creates nice depth of flavor plus we want the acid to react with the baking soda later on.
- Corn syrup-we add in the corn syrup which acts as a “doctoring agent” for our candy. It helps prevent the sugar from re-crystallizing so that our caramel is smooth and adds a slightly chewy stretchy texture that we’re looking for.
- Butter-for fat which = flavor
- Vanilla Extract-flavor
- Baking Soda-to react with the acid in the caramel and create a softer finished texture
- Flaky Sea Salt-I recommend using sea salt or kosher salt rather than table salt in this recipe. Both are large, flaky grain salts. Their flavor and texture both really add to this caramel sauce. I used Maldon sea salt when making mine. It’s a nice flaky finishing salt that really goes perfectly with caramel. If all you have is table salt, by all means, don’t let it stop you from making this caramel , however, you should reduce the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Why? Because table salt crystals are small dense crystals and can pack more tightly into your teaspoon, making them “more salty” than the less dense sea salt or kosher salt.
- Chocolate-both white and dark for both visual contrast and flavor contrast. This is a time you don’t have to be super picky about the kind of chocolate you use. A couple handfuls of melted chocolate chips will do just fine. Here is refresher on how to melt chocolate in the microwave.
- Popcorn-about 15 cups popped. Preferably plain with no butter or salt or other stuff already on it.
Why do you put baking soda in caramel corn?
At the end of making the caramel for our corn we add in a teaspoon of baking soda. The baking soda will bubble up and get fizzy which is exactly what we want. What is happening? The baking soda is reacting to the acid in the brown sugar (hello there, molasses) and creating tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. Those bubbles give our finished caramel a crisper, softer “bite” so that we’re not biting into hard caramel. (Think well made peanut brittle vs. a giant bite of a Werther’s Original).
How long does chocolate caramel corn last?
You want to store your finished, cooled chocolate caramel corn in an airtight container at room temperature. Stored this way it should easily last a month or so. I personally have never had it last that long. Usually when I make it, it’s gone in a couple days.
If it starts tasting a little bit stale, you can revive it by spreading it out on a baking sheet and popping it into the oven for 2-3 minutes and then allowing it to cool.
How to package it for gifting:
I personally like packaging chocolate caramel corn in plastic holiday bags that you can find in the cake decorating aisle at Michaels or Target. I choose a larger bag, one intended for cookies so that you can get plenty of caramel corn in the bag. Then I tie it with some ribbon or baker’s twine and put a gift tag on it. Other ideas for packaging homemade caramel corn:
- A glass jar-fill it with caramel corn and put a pretty ribbon around the top.
- A small cake or cookie box
- A classic popcorn tin
- A fun popcorn box-this would be especially cute if you were pairing it with a Netflix gift card and maybe some candy.
- A plain paper lunch sack tied with ribbon and a pretty tag is also perfect!
Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to packaging. It doesn’t have to be super expensive or fancy, a little ribbon and a holiday sticker go a long way.
Chocolate Caramel Corn
- Sheet pan
- Stove and Oven
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Karo syrup
- 2 sticks butter 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn about 15 cups popped
- 1/2 cup melted dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup melted white chocolate
- Pop your popcorn and place into large greased pan (or 2 9×13 cake pans if you don’t have a huge roaster pan)
- In a large saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter, and Karo syrup. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. The caramel will get “fizzy” looking. Don’t worry, that’s what you want.
- Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn (if using 2 pans, divide between the two pans)
- Toss to coat.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- While baking, stir the caramel very 5 minutes to ensure it does not burn. You know it's done when the popcorn looks "dry" When you pull it out of the oven, sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt.
- Allow to cool. Once cool, drizzle melted white and dark chocolate over the pan of caramel corn. Give it 15-20 minutes to dry. If you want, you can "stir" the caramel corn a little bit to get chocolate on all sides.
- Turn out of the pan and break apart. Allow to cool and enjoy!
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P.S. Looking for other holiday food gifts for your loved ones? How about homemade spiced pecans or maybe some no-bake peanut butter balls? Both are hits with my family during the holiday season!