Fruity Kool-Aid Candied Popcorn

Today is THE day!

It’s the last day of school!

The last day of school is always so bittersweet for me.  While I’m excited about the fun and sun of summer break, it means that in the blink of an eye, my girls have passed another milestone.  Emily will be a 4th grader in August when she heads back to school.  Fourth graders are the big kids at school!  I’m not ready for that!  And my baby, Avery, is done with Kindergarten!  How does this happen???  When I was a kid, the school year dragged on and on, and summer always seemed like it was a lifetime away.  Now that I’m the grown-up, time moves so quickly, I can’t keep up.  My dad warned me that this would happen.  I should have listened.

I wanted to treat my girls and their classmates to a special treat this last week of school, so I decided to try to tackle a recipe I’d run across on Pinterest a while ago.   I figured that the kids might get a kick out of this funky, fruity caramel corn, and since I needed to make enough of “something” for 40+ kids, popcorn seemed like a great idea.  Little did I know how much I’d enjoy it!  It has that sweet and salty thing going on that I LOVE, so I’ve become a bit of an addict. This could be dangerous.

I decided that I’d make three batches of this recipe, each batch a different flavor. Each batch calls for 24 cups of popped corn.  I used “Simply Salted” microwave popcorn (no butter) and three bags of popped corn gave me the perfect amount.  I poured the popped corn into my largest roasting pan…the one I usually save for my Thanksgiving turkey.  It’s so nice to have another use for it!

When you get your popcorn ready, make sure that you carefully pick out all of the unpopped kernels.  Usually, those sink to the bottom of a regular bowl of popcorn, but when stirring up a batch of candied corn, the unpopped kernels will stick to the popped ones…and that could hurt.  Be safe, save a tooth or two, and comb through your popcorn before moving any further!

Once my popcorn was popped, I brought some butter, sugar and corn syrup to a boil on my stove.  I stuck my candy thermometer in and let it come up to 250 degrees.

While it was boiling away on the stove, I mixed together two envelopes of cherry Kool-Aid with a teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl.

Once the candy had come to temperature, I removed it from the stove and stirred in my cherry-baking soda mixture.  As the baking soda is stirred into the candy, the mixture will bubble up a bit.  Be careful, don’t burn yourself, and stir the mixture for about a minute, until it’s well combined.

Once it was mixed together evenly, I poured the screaming hot sugar mixture over the popcorn in the pan.

I grabbed my largest plastic spoon and carefully stirred up the popcorn in the pan, folding it over and over again, until the cherry candy was evenly distributed among the popcorn.

Then, the big pan went into the oven for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, I stirred it up again, and returned it to the oven for another ten minutes.

Then, guess what?  I stirred it again, and returned it to the oven for,yet another, ten minutes.

And then…one more time.

The popcorn needs to “bake” (The oven is set really low, just 225*) for a total of 40 minutes.

After forty minutes, I had a huge pan of perfectly candy coated popcorn!  I quickly poured the popcorn out onto large sheets of waxed paper on my countertop and let the popcorn cool.  It doesn’t take long for the candy to harden up, so work as quickly as you can to spread the popcorn out.  After just a few minutes, the popcorn was cool, and deliciously crisp and sweet!

After the cherry popcorn, I also made batches of blue raspberry and lemon lime.

I decided to mix all three colors together.  My kitchen was FILLED with popcorn fruit salad!

It was the perfect amount, though. I  was able to make fun, colorful, little bags of popcorn fruit salad for each of the girls’ classmates and teachers, and we still had just enough left over for us to munch on.  (Which I was quite thankful for!!)

Happy Summer!!! 

I’m heading off to Disney World, so I’m going to let someone else cook for me next week.  I’ll see you when I get back home!

FRUITY KOOL-AID CANDIED POPCORN

Adapted from TastyKitchen.com

Fruity Kool-Aid Candied Popcorn
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ⅔ cups butter
  • 24 cups popped, salted popcorn (3 bags of microwave salted popcorn was perfect!), unpopped kernels removed
  • 2 envelopes Kool-Aid, whichever flavor you want
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 225*.
  2. Spray a large roasting pan (turkey sized, if possible!) with nonstick cooking spray. Pour popped corn into the roasting pan.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt together the butter, corn syrup, and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil and add your candy thermometer. Boil the mixture until it reaches 250*, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the Kool-Aid and baking soda.
  5. Once the sugar mixture has come to temperature, remove it from the heat, and carefully stir in the Kool-Aid mixture. The sugar will bubble up a bit, but keep stirring until it is well combined, about one minute.
  6. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the popped popcorn. Carefully mix until well combined.
  7. Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Stir and then repeat the process 3 more times.
  8. Take the popcorn out of the oven and, quickly, spread it out onto waxed paper to cool. Break apart into pieces.
  9. ENJOY!

14 thoughts on “Fruity Kool-Aid Candied Popcorn

  1. LOVE this idea. Hope I don’t burn myself though. Yikes. Wish you could come over and assist me. But I’m going to try it for my next kid party or BBQ. thanks! And good luck with kids now that school’s out!

    • You can pick up a candy thermometer at your grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. They are really cheap! 😉 If you’d like to try it without the candy thermometer, I’d suggest letting the sugars come to a boil and then letting them boil for 3-4 minutes. You should be fine. 🙂

  2. I made this fun treat for my daughter’s last day of school party and it was a total hit! Great idea!

  3. I tried this recipe and can really taste the baking soda…can anyone tell me why?
    Will it work without the baking soda?
    Thanks

    • Hmmm….did you use a Tablespoon instead of a teaspoon? I’ve made this many times and never tasted the baking soda. What flavor did you make? I wouldn’t suggest leaving it out. The baking soda is added to the “caramel” mixture to help lighten and crisp it up a bit once it’s cooled. Leaving it out might result in a soggy, sticky end product. It’s the same reason why baking soda is added to peanut brittle.

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  5. I like how your recipe calls for using a candy themometer.. I made the jello recipe
    but I think this recipe will be more what I am looking for. My question is. Any problem if I half this recipe? Making Halloween colored popcorn!
    Thank You!

    • I’ve never halved it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Let me know once you try it! 🙂

      • Made it! Your recipe was just what I was looking for!
        Came out great! I’ll be making the other half of the purple! The grand-kids will love this!
        Thank you!
        I like this better then the jello recipe.

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