Caramel Popcorn Spews Across the Counter

By | February 16, 2011
On Super Bowl Sunday, instead of watching all the pre-game activities, I decided to make homemade caramel popcorn to bring to my friend’s Super Bowl party. I remember having made this years and years ago for some of my brothers and sisters for Christmas. I couldn’t quite remember everything that was involved, but I didn’t think it would be too hard or take too long.

I was sort of right.

Let’s start with: I don’t have an air popper. Or a microwave. That means popping all the raw kernels in a pot on the stove, and making sure to not burn anything. Guess what? I did really, really well. Out of the four times I filled the pot, I only sort of scorched one batch, and it wasn’t that bad. The thing that boggles my mind, though, is how much room kernels take up once they’re popped. You start with a single layer of kernels in the bottom of the pot, and soon the popped corn is expanding and expanding, pushing at the lid, trying to get out!

I wanted to make sure that I had enough for my party, and maybe I went a bit overboard. After popping the corn, I had to put it in pans to pour on the caramel sauce. I took up pretty much all my pans. And my pans took up pretty much my entire oven. And, oh yeah, you have to bake this stuff for AN HOUR. That’s right. I forgot that part.
Caramel Popcorn Baking in the Oven

My carmel popcorn took up all my pans and the entire oven!

You know what? NO BIG DEAL! Super Bowl didn’t start until 3:30 Pacific Time. It was only 1:30, and it would only take me 45 minutes to get to my friend’s house. Fifteen whole minutes to spare!

One other little thing I forgot. After baking, you’re supposed to let the popcorn cool on the counter before storing it. I laid down the waxed paper in preparation and gathered all my things together while waiting for the hour of baking to be over. When I laid the caramel popcorn out to cool, I almost ran out of countertop! For a one-bed apartment, I thought I had a decent amount of counter space, but apparently I had reached the limit of baking quantity. Good thing I didn’t decide to pop one more batch; I have no idea how I would have fit it.

Caramel Popcorn Spread out on the Counter

A never-ending stream of caramel popcorn spewing across the counter

I let the popcorn cool for as long as I dared, before packing it into a couple gallon zip-lock bags and rushing out the door.

The Super Bowl party was fun, people seemed to like my popcorn, there was other good food there, etc., etc.

When I got home, it was to the absolute worst part: the cleanup. Every pan I had used was caked with a hard impenetrable layer of caramel. Scraping it off was a slow, agonizing, discouraging process.
Sticky Caramel Popcorn Pan

The worst part of making caramel popcorn is the cleanup. This pan was absolutely hardened ten minutes after removing it from the oven!

I finally got smart. I boiled a big pot of water, poured the scalding water into each pan, and scraped the now soft and melting caramel off the pans. Easy as eating another piece of popcorn. And another. And another. And…

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