Thursday, December 22, 2011

Caramel Popcorn Snack Mix

This is a great crowd pleaser as a munchie at a party and is also perfect for a holiday gift for co-workers, neighbors and friends.

It's also easy. I made a batch this morning in a grand total of 10-15 minutes. You can add in some peanuts and pecans for a real treat, but my kids don't like them, so I usually leave the nuts out.

6 cups popped popcorn
3 cups Crispix cereal
2 cups Cheerio-like cereal
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter cubed
1/4 cup simple sugar syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
*optional 1 cup pecan halves &
   1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees & grease a large, metal roasting pan.
2. Pop the popcorn. Easiest & cheapest way to pop healthy popcorn: brown paper lunchbag! I've found that every microwave is different, but in mine, I add 1/4 cup plain popcorn kernels to the bag, fold down the top of the bag with two small folds. Place it in the microwave and cook it for 1 minute, 50 seconds. It almost perfectly pops with very few leftover kernels. And, this also makes a perfect amount (about 6 cups) for this recipe!
3. Mix together the popcorn, nuts if using, Crispix & Cheerio-like cereal on the greased roasting pan.
4. On stovetop, combine the brown sugar, sugar syrup & butter and bring to a boil. Boil until temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees.
5. Remove from heat, add vanilla & baking soda. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture and toss around to coat.
6. Cook in 250 degree oven for an hour (45 minutes works too!). Stir it a couple of times while baking.

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