- 15 cups popped popcorn
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp flavoring extract (orange, lemon, vanilla, etc)
- Orange food coloring
- Yellow food coloring
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 C). Cover two baking sheet with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Divide the popped popcorn into three equal batches of about 5 cups each. At least one of the batches should be kept in a large bowl, big enough for vigorous mixing. Set aside two smaller heat-safe bowls for now.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, corn syrup, and salt, and place the pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Bring the mixture to a boil, then insert a candy thermometer.
4. Continue to cook the candy without stirring until it reaches 242 degrees Fahrenheit (117 C). Remove the pan from the heat, then pour a third of the candy into one of the smaller heat-safe bowls, and pour another third into the second bowl. You can just estimate the amounts, it does not have to be precise.
5. Working quickly, pour the remaining candy from the saucepan into the popcorn in the large mixing bowl. Stir everything together with a spatula until the popcorn is well-coated with the candy. Scrape the popcorn out onto one of the baking sheet and separate any big clumps.
6. Add a drop or two of yellow food coloring to one of the bowls of sugar syrup, and stir until it's well mixed. Add more coloring if necessary until you get a strong, bold yellow. Transfer one of the remaining batches of popcorn into the large mixing bowl, and pour the yellow candy syrup over it. Stir until coated, then pour the yellow popcorn onto a baking sheet—try to keep the colors somewhat separated, to make it easier to sort the popcorn later.
7. Repeat the process one last time, this time dying the remaining sugar syrup orange before coating the popcorn. Scrape the orange popcorn onto a baking sheet and spread it into an even layer.
8. Bake the trays of popcorn at 300 F for 16 minutes, stirring after every 4 minutes. Switch the trays front to back and top to bottom periodically, to avoid hot spots or discoloration from burning.
9. Once cooked, let the popcorn cool at room temperature until no longer warm and fully crisp. Serve it stacked in three layers just like candy corn. If desired, toss pieces of candy corn in amidst the clusters.
10. Store Candy Corn Popcorn in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature for up to two weeks. It's best made and enjoyed in a low-humidity environment, otherwise it will quickly get sticky.