I said I'd let you know how the popcorn making went on Friday.
It went well. Very well. So well, in fact, that my sister and I both ended up with sugar headaches.. but the popcorn was so tasty. Sugar is pretty vicious stuff, but it sure does taste good :)
We popped up the popcorn (in the Whirley Pop T got me for C'mas two years ago. I'll never do air-popped corn again) and sorted through to get the un-popped kernels out (no one likes chomping into a handful of soft, crispy caramel corn only to nearly break their tooth on a stray kernel). Then we made the caramel.
Viv's comment as I was adding the ingredients:
"All you need to make caramel is sugar and butter?! Whoa.. I might have to make it all the time now."
You're supposed to add the ingredients to the pan, stir to combine and then not stir while it boils to the right temperature. So that lonely wooden spoon, coated in sugar and butter, was just sitting on the stove as the sweet golden gloop bubbled away in the pan. Viv kept looking at the spoon, sneaking finger-swipes of the goodness left on it from stirring. I told her she could go ahead and finish licking it off, as long as she washed it and put it back on the stove :) (I admit she was not the only one "testing" to see if the sugar tasted good.)
When the caramel was ready, we took it off the heat and added the baking soda/cayenne pepper mix. This is the real magic of this recipe! With just the right amount of cayenne, it turns the often overly-sweet caramel corn treat into a salty-sweet-savory snack that finishes with a kick! Neither Viv nor I are huge fans of spicy, so we added the lesser amount of pepper, and it turned out great for us.
After we stirred the caramel into the waiting popcorn, we spread it out on cookie sheets to cool. It was sitting there, so pretty and freshly-warm, I thought "cinnamon might add a nice touch." So I dusted the popcorn on one tray with regular ol' ground cinnamon. I tasted it. It was fabulous. Not any sweeter, but it somehow took some of the edge off the spicy cayenne. I'm glad I left half the corn without the cinnamon, though, because that tray was just as good.