Well, I was wrong, and that is a good thing.
This recipe, from the nice folk at Chex Cereal via mom’s home town newspaper, is every bit as good as the caramel puff corn that has become a holiday staple around here, and, it does it all on 1/4 of the butter and corn syrup, 1/3 the brown sugar and…
Good, and pretty darned good for you; I like that in my snack foods!
•1/4 cup unsalted butter
•1/4 tsp salt**
•1/3 cup packed brown sugar
•2 tbsp light corn syrup
•1/4 tsp vanilla
*I added 1/2 cup of good white popping corn to a brown paper lunch bag, folded the top over tightly three or four times, then popped it in the ‘wave and hit ‘popcorn’. Worked a treat, mostly. There were kernels unpopped, but I still ended up with close to five cups of nice popped corn with nothing added, which brings us to…
**because I was using home popped corn with no oil or salt or anything else added, I chose to add just a bit of salt to the caramel, and am most happy with the way it all turned out. You do what you want.
Heat your oven to 250º and combine the popped corn and cereal (and the nuts, if you’re using them) in a large roasting pan. A non-stick hard-anodized aluminum turkey roaster is most certainly the way to go here, I’ve used my 15 year old pan from Costco more for snacks and stuff like this than I have for turkey.
Remove, stir well, then return and ‘wave for one more minute.
Remove from the ‘wave, give a quick stir, then immediately pour over the popped corn and cereal in the roasting pan and stir to combine.
Pop the pan into the oven for 15 minutes, then pull it out and give it a good stir. See? the caramel bits have softened and will coat a bit more of the mixture.
Back into the oven for another 15 minutes, then out again for another nice stir – things are looking good and smelling even better.
Note: if you haven’t used a non-stick roaster, you’re gonna want to turn it all out onto a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper to cool.
Store the cooled mix in a large zipper bag or other tightly sealed container.
Truly, I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t hear that bag calling my name late at night; even without the caramel mixture coating every last piece of popcorn and cereal, the flavor is everywhere, enough so that I feel kinda bad for giving into temptation…
and then, I recall those nutritional comparisons.