4-5 quarts popped popcorn (a double batch of this popcorn recipe, unsalted, unbuttered)
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 Tbsp molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups salted peanuts (optional)
Heat oven to 225°F.
Place popcorn in large roasting pan; set aside.
Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses and salt in a thick-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 250°F or small amount of mixture dropped in ice water forms a hard ball (about 12 to 14 minutes).
Remove from heat; stir in baking soda.
The caramel will foam up a little and turn a lighter color when you add the baking soda.
Carefully pour hot mixture over the popcorn in a large roasting pan. (If you would like peanuts with your popcorn, sprinkle the salted peanuts over the caramel sauce at this point.)
Using a wooden spoon, stir until all popcorn is coated. (Be careful not to let the caramel touch you; it's very hot.)
Place in oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir to more evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel sauce.
Return to oven.
Continue cooking for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Immediately spread caramel corn out onto waxed paper.
Let cool completely.
Break into bite-sized pieces.
Store in tightly covered container.