2 (3 1/2 ounce) bags
natural microwave popcorn
( minus any unpopped kernels)
1 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) (optional) or 1 cup salted peanuts or 1 cup
light corn syrup
unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for forming
( when making popcorn balls)
- Preheat oven to 250°F Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick baking mats; set aside.
- Pop popcorn according to package directions, get rid of unpopped kernels; set aside.
- Make caramel: Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook, without stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, swirling pot occasionally.
- Remove mixture from heat and quickly stir in salt, vanilla, cinnamon & cayenne with a heatproof spatula or spoon. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture and stir to incorporate. Divide popcorn mixture evenly between baking sheets. Transfer to oven and bake, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Let cool on sheet pans before breaking apart into clusters. Store popcorn in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- *Note: If you opt for the ‘pepitas’ the pumpkin seeds instead of nuts (use one or the other not both) ~ you will need to toast the pumpkin seeds in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until browned and popping, tossing and stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. (Do this in batches, if needed.) Then, add to the popcorn.
- *If making popcorn balls, use following directions: When the popcorn is cool enough to handle, coat your hands with some butter and shape into 4-inch balls. Wrap in waxed paper and tie with a string, if desired. Serve or store covered at room temperature for up to a week.