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 large bowl and set aside. And by large bowl, I mean like, twice as big as you think you really need. If you don't believe me, then maybe you will believe the scorching hot caramel goo that's splattered all over your hands while you're stirring in your not-so-big bowl. Just a thought.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Again, use a bowl larger than you think you need to avoid scorching hot caramel goo accidents. It's really important to incorporate the cinnamon into the brown sugar at this point. For some reason, if you don't it does crazy things.
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.
If it doesn't quite look like that you can microwave it a little longer, but just beware that if you over cook it, it will reach the hard candy stage and you'll end up with a giant clump of tasty concrete-like substance with little popcorn pieces stuck to it. Don't ask me how I know this.
Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.
The vanilla makes it bubble and pop and the baking soda makes it foam up.
Now take that foamy science project and pour it right over the popcorn and pecans. Stir right away, and stir lots. Take too long and the caramel will harden on you. Keep stirring until everything is well coated.
Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.
And yeah, go ahead and pop some in your mouth, you know you want to. It will be kinda chewy and stick-to-your-teeth-like. But we're gonna change that. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. "Sample." If it's not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes. "Sample" again. This will not be the end of "sampling."
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. Now, just 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!