Pumpkin Seed Caramel Corn

Hooray for fall! Hooray for pumpkins! It has been a whole year since you have burned yourself out with pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecakes… the list goes on. But by summertime we start remembering that old gourd with fondness and nostalgia again.

Here’s my baby step back into #zomgeverythingneedstobepumpkinspiceorelse. Yeah, that’s right, I hashtagged. Come and experience the awesomeness that is Pumpkin Seed Caramel Corn!

┬áBefore we begin, I should mention that I’ve not actually added your usual fall spice profiles, no pumpkin pie spice. No cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc. However, that certainly does not mean that you shouldn’t add some to your caramel if that is what floats your boat! If it were me I’d add 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, anything more would be overpowering.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Unpopped Corn Kernels*
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Seedless, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    * Note: I recommend spending $3.00 and buying a bag/jar of unpopped corn kernels as opposed to using microwaved bag popcorn. The reason behind this is that I feel popping corn on the stove yields a lot less unpopped kernels, you don’t have chemicals and additives in your final product, it takes around the same amount of time, and you can control how much product you produce.
    However, if using microwaved popcorn, you’ll need around 6 cups. Try to shoot for a non-buttery variety as your caramel corn may end up being too greasy otherwise.

Preheat your oven to 200 F.

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In a medium saucepan (that you have a vented lid to) over medium heat, add your 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and spread as well as you can. I use a paper towel (I end up losing some oil this way, but I’m ok with that) and spreading the oil around.

Add your 1/4 cup of kernels and put your lid on the saucepan. Every 30 seconds or so, give your pot a jostle by pushing it forward and pulling it back, as to roll around the kernels. After about 2 minutes your popcorn should start to pop, at which time just sit back and have fun watching the show.

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Once the kernels have stopped popping, go ahead and take your pan off the heat and empty your popcorn onto a large baking sheet lined with either a silicone mat or parchment paper. That’s right, folks. I’m not going to have us dirty up a bowl just to mix our popcorn and caramel. We’re going to be daredevils and mix things right upon the baking sheet!

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On to the caramel….

In a medium saucepan, yes the one you just wiped out from the popcorn, add your brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Place it over medium heat and cook it for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until it looks like this:

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Turn your heat off and add your vanilla. Be warned, but not worried, that it is going to hiss at you when you add the vanilla.

Next, add your baking soda and salt. Stir, stir, stir for about 30 seconds or until well incorporated. Things will get poofy, change color, and generally be pretty awesome – it’ll look like this:

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OK! So, to our baking sheet and our popcorn. Just try to evenly spread the caramel over the popcorn, then add your pumpkin seeds. I give you a range because I feel the amount of seeds you’ll desire depends on taste. Personally, I used about 3/4 of a cup. Just sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the caramel, and working quickly give it all a good mix. It shouldn’t be too difficult and I actually think it’s a bit easier this way than mixing things in a bowl.

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Place your baking sheet in your preheated oven for 20 minutes. After twenty minutes, you will take the tray out and stir your popcorn mixture and then place back into the oven for another 20 minutes. You’ll repeat this step one more time, your total baking time will be one hour.

Once your hour has passed, but take the sheet out of the oven to cool for 10 to 20 minutes and then break apart your popcorn chunks as you see fit.

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That’s all there is to it! You’re done! Enjoy and store your leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week or two.

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