Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)*
1 C roughly chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares almond bark

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn. If using microwave, anything works, but I prefer a “natural” flavor that’s low in butter and salt.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a very large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Use a bowl larger than you think you need.

Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything.Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine.Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.  When combined, pour over popcorn and stir until it’s coated.  Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.**(See baking note at end of post)

After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. “Sample.” If it’s not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes.  When it’s done, give it a final stir and let it cool off for a bit while you melt your almond bark (just nuke it in the microwave according to the package directions) If you want, you can spread out your caramel corn on a clean piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. I always do this because sometimes it sticks to the hot foil if I leave it on the original pan. Use a fork and drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture.

When it’s hardened (pop it in the fridge to speed that process along) break into chunks and enjoy!

**I’ve experimented a lot with baking, and found that baking at 300 degrees for about 13-15 minutes works just great as well.  Much faster!

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