This turtle popcorn recipe is straight bananas! It has that crunchy, chocolaty, caramel goodness that we just can’t get enough of. There’s even a slight salty note in there. It’s one of those recipes that just don’t last for us. Like, when we make it, it’s usually gone the same day. So, I warn you, you might experience something similar at your home.
We love caramel corn and for years we made it at home. However, until recently we were making it completely wrong. I’m a little ashamed that we used to eat caramel corn that was a little soggy. It wasn’t until a little while ago that we discovered the secrets to this tasty concoction (we’ll reveal the secrets below).
So, I already told you that we are caramel corn fiends, but we also love Chicago style popcorn (a delicious mixture of caramel and cheddar cheese popcorn), and garlic butter, and well, I guess we just love popcorn.
That turtle popcorn tho…
Anyway, turtle caramel corn is just so perfect for a party, because, who doesn’t like it? You can make it in advance as it stores very well so long as you allow it to cool long enough (more on that in the recipe). Not only does it taste amazing but it also looks good. That’s why it makes such a great food gift. Actually, I wish that we took some pictures to show you some ideas for a gift.
So how do we make it?
First, a couple of notes about this recipe:
- For one, it is easy, but not necessarily quick. The cooking time is about an hour and 15 minutes. But, most of that time comes from the baking aspect of the recipe. So you can do something else while your popcorn bakes in the oven.
- There are pecan nuts in this recipe. I wanted to make that known for anyone isn’t familiar with what “turtle” means as it relates to confections.
Complete instructions are located below in the recipe section.
First you need to pop the popcorn.
Next, chop the pecans. Set aside.
Next, let’s make the caramel. Add the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Stir until the butter is melted. Lower the temp for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes expire, add the vanilla extract.
Then add the baking soda to the caramel sauce. This is the first secret step. The baking soda helps to keep the popcorn nice and tender.
Pour the caramel sauce and chopped pecans over the popcorn. Then gently fold the caramel over the popcorn so that the popcorn is well coated. Place the mixture onto a parchment paper or nonstick lined pan. Make sure to spread the popcorn evenly.
**This is the second secret step** Next, bake at 250 for an hour. While the mixture is baking, remove it from the oven to stir it every 15 minutes. This will ensure that it bakes evenly. Baking is how you get that crunchy texture while keeping the popcorn tender.
Make the chocolate sauce and spread it over the baked popcorn. See the recipe.
To store, place the popcorn in an airtight container. But first allow the popcorn to cool for at least an hour. If you store it before you allow it to cool the popcorn will end up soggy.
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- ½ Cup Popcorn Kernels
- 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup Unsalted Butter
- ¼ Cup Light Corn Syrup
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Cup Whole Pecans Chopped
- 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Start with a large pot with a top on medium high heat. Add the oil and popcorn kernels. Shake the pot as you hear the kernels popping. (See note) This will take about 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat off when you only hear a few kernels popping at a time. The kernels will continue to pop even when the heat is off. Pour the popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
- Chop the pecans into small pieces and set aside.
- To make the caramel sauce it is much earlier than you think. Take a medium pot on medium high heat add the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is starting to dissolve about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the sauce for 5 minutes. Do not stir during this time.
- Once the 5 minutes is up turn off the heat and add the vanilla extract and stir.
- Now add the baking soda and watch the magic happen. The sauce will bubble up and turn a light brown color. (See note)
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and add the chopped pecans. Mix until everything is combined. Pour mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. (See note) Bake for 1 hour. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes to allow the caramel to brown on all sides of the kernels. Once the popcorn is done remove from oven and set aside.
- Take a small pot filled with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Take a smaller bowl and set it on top of the pot filled with water. Add the chocolate chips in the bowl and completely melt the chocolate. Takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Pour the melted chocolate into a sandwich bag and cut a small corner. Squeeze the chocolate all over the cooled popcorn and put it in the freezer to allow the chocolate to set. About 15 minutes. Now it’s time to taste this delicious treat. Enjoy!!
- By shaking the pop a little during the cooking process it prevents the kernels from getting burnt. No one likes burnt popcorn. Oh wait my husband’s uncle loves everything burnt. Lol
- The baking soda reacts to the acid in the sauce i.e. the brown sugar and corn syrup. The reaction causes tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles to form. These tiny bubbles help make the popcorn soft and tender.
- You want to really make sure the caramel popcorn mixture does not stick to the pan. So spray the parchment paper really good. Lol
- It’s best to store the popcorn in an air tight container for about 5 days, that’s if it lasts that long. ☺