Another recipe from my Hogwarts mini-course. This is my favorite candy popcorn recipe. Have fun playing with flavorings and colors. Theme it for whatever holiday you want to celebrate. For Christmas, I like to make three big batches, yellow with rum, red with peppermint, and green with almond. After they set up, break the popcorn apart and mix all three in a bag to make a festive present.
8 quarts air-popped unseasoned popcorn
1 c. butter
1/2 c. corn syrup
2 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. extract or flavoring or 1/4 t. oil flavoring
food coloring as desired
Melt the butter in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Stir in corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Cook to just past soft ball stage. (A little bit dripped into a bowl of ice cold water should form a soft ball that's just a bit chewy. It's just over 220° F.) Remove from heat. Stir in flavorings and colorings. Pour over popcorn. Stir gently until evenly coated. Spread out onto waxed paper to cool. Break into chunks and store in a loosely covered container.
Some of my favorite flavors are rum, peppermint, almond, anise, coconut, cinnamon (oil only), and vanilla. Fruit flavors will also work. The oil flavorings can be a lot stronger than the regular extracts, so if in doubt, add less. You can always use more next time if the flavor isn't strong enough.
For a fun eggnog flavor, add 1/2 t. rum extract, 1 t. vanilla, and 1/2 t. ground nutmeg to the syrup just before pouring over the popcorn.
For a fun experiment, instead of extract and colorings, add a packet of unsweetened Koolaid drink mix to the syrup. Flavor and color all in one.
You can also stir in fun things like marshmallows, red hot candies, gumdrops, M&M's, nuts, coconut, or whatever else catches your fancy. Just add them to the popcorn before you add the syrup. Be careful with chocolate candies. They may melt from the heat. You can always press them on top of the popcorn before it's cool.