And the winner is....
Caramel corn! Simultaneously sweet and salty, this is a total crowd pleaser, making it the perfect thing to serve at an Oscar viewing party. (Plus its golden to boot in case you're going for an awards themed menu.) With it's impressive appearance and irresistible taste, it's sure to win you the title of best hostess in a leading role. Better start practicing your surprised look and your acceptance speech now.
10 cups freshly popped popcorn, lightly salted (see note, below)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Note: The original recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped salted peanuts, which I omitted
Preheat oven to 250, and line a rimmed baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Place popped popcorn in a large, oiled bowl.
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt with 2 tablespoons of water. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees (this should take less than five minutes once the caramel is at a simmer). Working quickly (but carefully! I once burned myself with hot caramel and it was NOT fun) remove the pan from the heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix with a spatula until it is well coated.
Spread the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Let cool, and break up any large clusters of popcorn that have formed before serving.
A note on making popcorn: I don't have a microwave, so I make my popcorn using the Simply Recipes method, and it has never let me down. You can definitely use your favorite microwave brand in this recipe, but I encourage you to give the stove pop method a try. The popcorn is always perfect, and it's fun to make, too.