My Favorite Kind of Failure: Another Caramel Corn Catastrophe

If I were to move to France, study under Alain Ducasse for a year, then intern for Thomas Keller in California, getting my master chef certification the next year, I would still suck at making caramel corn. It is the bane of my existence. When it comes to caramel corn, I am cursed.

So why oh why oh why do I keep doing it? Isn’t this a psychological thing—the same sort of logic that sends the battered wife back into her husband’s arms? What makes me want to make caramel corn when I know it won’t come out?

I’ll tell you what. HOPE. A DREAM. A dream of fresh homemade caramel corn. It started well enough…


Sugar, water, boiling away. I used Gale Gand’s recipe from the Food Network site. I won’t link to it because it didn’t work, but I used it with the very best of intentions. (Which, incidentally, the road to hell is paved with…)

Then I added the homemade popcorn and toasted pecans. Stirred it around. Poured it out on my Silpat sheet:


I was buzzed with excitement. This would be it—the perfect recipe, the perfect caramel corn. Then I went to break it apart—it wouldn’t break. I flipped it over:


A giant blob of caramel and a lemon. THAT LEMON WASN’T THERE BEFORE I STARTED.

Luckily, I was able to break little pieces away and they tasted good. Maybe some day all the pieces will break away and they’ll all taste good. A man can dream, can’t he?

10 thoughts on “My Favorite Kind of Failure: Another Caramel Corn Catastrophe”

  1. hey!

    it looks like you didnt stir the popcorn and caramel together long enough. If you had of let the caramel mixture cool alittle more before you poured it onto your silpat sheet it wouldnt have run off the corn as much ;)If you spread the corn out it wont harden into a big blob either.

    I just had a little look at some recipes on the net, YIKES they were badly written.

    this one looked interesting though, it make “a honeycomb” (do you have that in america? eg violet crumbles, crunchies?)the caramel will froth up heaps!

    Might be interesting to try anyway.

    I hope this extraordinarily long comment helps.

  2. Never fear Adam! I will bring to you – the one, the only caramel corn recipe. Handed to me by my Grandmother on her death bed…. Well not really. But it is Grandma’s recipe. I need to get home to find it, but I swear it has never failed me.

  3. i’ve never made caramel corn…but it seems to me that it might work if you added the corn to the caramel, instead of the other way around? kind of like rice krispy squares? and then stirred?

  4. Okay here goes. Never fail Caramel corn.

    1 cup butter

    1/2 cup corn syrup

    1/2 tsp baking soda

    2 cups brown sugar

    1 tsp salt

    1 tsp vanilla

    6 quarts of Popped corn(use the kind labelled Mushroom popcorn)

    Heat your oven to 250C. Melt the butter, stir in the corn syrup, sugar and salt. Bring the misture to a boil stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the soda and vanilla (Careful! it foams!). Pour over the popped corn and mix well. Spread the coated corn into large cake pans and bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let it cool and eat! You can add peanuts or any other nuts if you like. Trust me on this one. Would my Grandma lie to you?

  5. Ah Christine, he won’t listen…I too sent in my no fail caramel corn recipe. I think this may be a new category on Amateur Gourmet – the hunt for bad caramel corn recipes!

  6. Christine, our recipe is almost exactly like yours. I think the baking soda is the trick, I see that Gale Gand’s didn’t include it. Give it another shot!

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