My sons and I were making this delicious recipe for caramel popcorn yesterday and I thought you might enjoy a fun snack on your holiday! (Originally published 3/30/2009.) Making popcorn is a great way to involve and discuss the five senses. You can read more about the developmental benefits of cooking here, and check out this great post on cooking with kids from Simple Bites.
Cooking is a great activity to do with kids! There are plenty of ways children can help with almost any recipe, but some recipes just lend themselves to increased interest and participation from your little culinary artists. This is one of them! Caramel popcorn… in a bag… in the microwave! It’s almost magical!
(*As with any recipe be sure to know the limits of your children and your facility’s policies for safety if applicable. Popcorn in particular may not be suitable for certain children or allowed in specific programs.)
Start with 8 cups of popped popcorn in a large paper sack (grocery store size). I’ve found that 1/2 cup of kernels popped in my air popper equals about 8 cups, or a little more. (Typically I’ll sneak in some extra popcorn just to “stretch” the recipe. That’s what growing up in a big family will do for you!)
In a microwavable bowl, combine:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Karo syrup
1/2 tsp salt
Microwave for 3-4 minutes, until frothy.
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp soda
Stir to combine well, and then pour over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top to seal and shake to coat. (When microwaving and shaking the bag, some of the melted butter will seep through. Just be sure to avoid touching those parts, and particularly point them out to your little ones that might be shaking the bag.)
Microwave, the bag and all, for 30 seconds and shake again.
Repeat until you have done a total of 2 minutes in the microwave. (The original recipe says 3-4 minutes, but that was always too much in my micro. If you do 2 minutes and the caramel corn still looks too sticky and thick, repeat the 30 second micro and shake sessions until it looks well coated.)
When it’s done, pour the popcorn into a large bowl, and let it cool. Enjoy! (When we had it along with apple slices recently, the combination was a tasty caramel apple sensation….and it got some fruit in!)
Involving children in making this recipe, exposes them to math concepts as you measure together, motor skills as you both stir and shake, science concepts as heat changes the properties of matter, and certainly sensory experiences as they hear, smell, see, and taste their creation! Cooking is a great cognitive activity in general as it demonstrates cause-effect and ordered procedures. Most of all, it’s a great activity for bringing everyone together in a positive social interaction!
Photo by bgraphic.