Complete List of 5 Days of Christmas Cookies:
Day 1: Mini Almond Joy Brownies
Day 2: Whole Grain Cut-Out Cookies
Day 3: Espresso Truffle Bars
Day 4: Chocolate Drizzled Nut Squares
Day 5: Homemade “Moose Munch” Honey Caramel Corn (today)
Though this homemade “Moose Munch” caramel corn isn’t an actual cookie, it is a great Christmas treat that we have given our family and friends for a number of years now. And I had to share it for two reasons:
- Everyone tells me their family fights over this and they have to make sure it’s equally distributed to keep the peace.
- I can only make this one time a year or I will eat it all in a sitting.
Anything that good deserves a place in the Christmas line-up.
Oh, and that last point? Goodness, not really- I couldn’t eat this all by myself in one sitting!
It would take at least two. Okay, maybe in the same day- but not in the same sitting, sheesh.
Since some people shy away from making caramel corn (you know, hot syrup, candy thermometers and all that), I’m going to walk you through the steps so you can see how easy it is- really. And here are two things you won’t find in my recipe (that I adapted from a recipe in Brian’s Kansas grandmother’s vintage “Farm Journal” cookbook!):
- corn syrup
- candy thermometers
So now there really are no excuses. Except for all the sugar and butter part, but we won’t bother about that, will we?
The first step is simply to pop some popcorn. I use an air popper because it’s easy. You can make it however you choose. Then spread it in a large, oiled roasting pan. The most important thing to remember, though is this:
Leave all the unpopped kernals and “old maids” in the bowl when you transfer the popcorn to the pan. Your teeth (and your family’s teeth) will thank you. Now set the pan of popcorn in a 250 degree oven to warm while making the caramel.
To make the caramel, place the butter, sugars, and honey in a large saucepan set over medium heat and melt it together. Stir until you start to see some gentle bubbles on the surface, similar to the picture (I really tried to get a picture of this, but the light and camera weren’t cooperating, though I think it’s close). When you see the gentle bubbles, set a timer for 5 minutes.
Continue to stir for the full 5 minutes. The mixture will start boiling a bit harder, but never get crazy on you. However, I always make caramel in a large (4-qt) saucepan, just to give it all the room it might need. I had no spits or overflows with this, though you should take care, ’cause it’s hot and will burn at this point. Not that you wouldn’t have figured that out- just want to cover all the bases.
When the timer goes off (see? no thermometers!) remove the pan of popcorn from the oven and pour the caramel mixture all over the corn. Mix with a large spoon until most of the popcorn is evenly coated. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, stir the pan of caramel corn again and then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Prep a counter space with two large pieces of waxed paper or parchment.
Immediately pour the hot caramel corn onto the waxed paper, spreading it out over the paper to cool. Cool completely, and then break into as small pieces as possible.
Ta da- you’ve made caramel corn!
Now, to make it “Moose Munch” caramel corn, melt chocolate (I used both milk and dark chocolate this time) and mix with half of the caramel corn (place the plain caramel corn in an airtight container). Spread the chocolate-covered caramel corn onto the waxed paper and use a couple of spoons to separate the pieces as much as you can so that it will be easier to distribute the chocolate corn with the plain caramel corn.
I usually let it sit overnight (covered with plastic or wax paper) to make sure it has time to harden completely.
When the chocolate is firm, mix it back together with the plain caramel corn. And try not to eat it all, mkay?
Bag it up as fast as you can.PRINT
Homemade “Moose Munch” Honey Caramel Corn
Honey Caramel Corn:
- 2/3 c. unpopped popcorn
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. brown sugar (you could probably use all sucanat in place of both sugars- then end product might be a bit grainier, but still good!)
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1/2 tsp. salt
For the “Moose Munch:”
- 1 c. chocolate chips of choice- milk, semisweet, dark, white (Note: this becomes “Peppermint Crunch” Caramel Corn when half gets coated with white chocolate and crushed candy canes are sprinkled over it before it dries. Which is so very good, too.)
- Optional add-ins: nuts, pretzels, crushed candy canes
- Make the Caramel Corn (good on it’s own, too!): Heat oven to 250 degrees. Pop the popcorn and spread it in a large, oiled roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven to stay warm and crisp (it also helps to spread the hot caramel evenly on warm popcorn).
- Combine the butter, sugars, honey, and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir while mixture melts and starts gently bubbling. Set a timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly while mixture gently boils.
- At the end of 5 minutes, remove from heat. Take the pan of popcorn out of the oven and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn, stirring to coat the popcorn evenly.
- Return to oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring once at the 15 minute mark and again when it’s done (a piece removed with a spoon will be crisp to the bite). While caramel corn is cooking, prep a cooling area on a counter with two large pieces of waxed paper.
- Immediately pour the hot caramel corn onto the waxed paper and spread evenly to cool, breaking up bigger pieces so that there will be smaller pieces to coat with the chocolate.
- Make the “Moose Munch:” Divide the cooled caramel corn in half. Place the plain caramel corn in an airtight container.
- Melt the chocolate and pour over the other half of caramel corn (in a large bowl); stir to coat well (if you are using any optional ingredients, stir them in with the chocolate- though if I’m using crushed peppermint, I simply sprinkle it over the coated caramel corn before it cools).
- Spread the chocolate-covered caramel corn back onto the waxed paper and use a couple of spoons to separate the pieces as much as possible. You’re aiming for individually coated pieces that will mix with the plain caramel corn. Let cool completely (I usually wait overnight to be sure).
- When the chocolate is firm, mix the plain caramel corn with the chocolate caramel corn. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (I have even frozen this for a few weeks and it was still good).
Makes about 3-1/2 quarts.
Don’t forget to visit these wonderful blogs who are also participating in this “Five Days Of Christmas” series of holiday ideas and inspiration:
A Slob Comes Clean – Getting Your Home Company Ready
Feels Like Home – Christmas Traditions
Somewhat Crunchy – Christmas with Dairy Allergies
Spell Outloud – Children’s Books
Mama’s Learning Corner – Children’s Crafts
Many Little Blessings – Edible Gifts
Sunflower Schoolhouse – Decorations
Catholic Icing – Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday
The Traveling Praters – Traveling
The Homeschool Classroom – Gifts Kids Can Make
Mama’s Laundry Talk – Laundry Gifts