Caramel Corn, Peanut Brittle and NOTHING About Black Friday


While I don’t personally know of anyone who has been camping out in a Walmart parking lot for the last week, I do know lots of people who are storming the sales at malls and stores today. Me? I’d rather be any other place—like Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE! Or maybe in my kitchen stirring up a few batches of decadent Caramel Corn and Peanut Brittle.

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Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than with my two favorite decadent holiday treats!

Peanut Brittle
(With thanks to Martha Lou Pearman)

  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peanuts
  • 3/4 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda (measure out then put aside)

Place sugar, peanuts, syrup and water into a large heavy pan and stir to incorporate. Set over high heat and  and bring to a boil. Watch closely and do not stir. Simply allow it to boil until it reaches 300F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat and 4 teaspoons baking soda stirring constantly. Immediately pour out onto a buttered sheet pan or buttered cold marble slab (if you have something like that, which is awesome for candy making). Allow to cool then break into pieces. Oh my.

Caramel Corn

  • 12 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup kernels) or 2 bags microwave popcorn
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes, please)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the popped popcorn into a large bowl that is at least twice the volume of the popcorn itself and remove any unpopped kernels. You’ll be doing some serious stirring so you need a really big bowl.

Cut the butter into chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl along with the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well to combine. Microwave on high for 2 minutes longer. Remove bowl from microwave and stir very well. Return to microwave and heat for another 2 minutes on high. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla and baking soda. It will make popping sounds and get light and foamy. After stirring, immediately pour over the popcorn in the big bowl. Stir well to coat all of the popcorn.

Spread the coated popcorn on one large or two smaller cookie sheets, breaking up any clumps. Bake at 200F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread out on waxed paper and allow to cool.

This last step is critical, so don’t skip it: Sample the caramel corn sufficiently to make sure it is fit for human consumption—perhaps even for gift-giving. You cannot be too careful here so make sure you double, perhaps even triple-test. Once you are satisfied, and if any caramel corn remains, store in airtight containers or re-sealable bags.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be making Carmel Corn and Peanut Brittle tomorrow. Today? Yeah, that’s me right there, front and center at the Nokia Theater kicking off the season with Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE! and the world’s most excited 4-year old. And did I say cute?

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3 replies
  1. Janice
    Janice says:

    Mary, please include a “Print” link on your recipes in “Everyday Cheapskate.” I have not been successful at printing a recipe that is readable and that I can put in my recipe file. I and others would appreciate it! Thanks.

    • maxhalberg
      maxhalberg says:

      Janice, there’s a print button at the bottom of the post where it says “Share this:” Make sure to check the preview and only print the pages you need, as this will also print out comments if you don’t change it.

  2. Dianne Carpenter
    Dianne Carpenter says:

    About that peanut brittle – after year’s of making dozens of batches a Christmas season, here is my secret to ‘brittle’ and not ‘filling removers’… cool outside when it is dry and under 40*…. I tried to make it in San Francisco and cooling it inside – nope, too gummy and would have taken my teeth out. Now I am in NW Indiana and if I make it when it is raining or snowing, it is gummy; or if it is above 40*…. That’s my experience – don’t know about dry Arizona.


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