I was raised with goodly parents. My folks spent as much time with their kids as they could. My dad worked long hours but his vacations and Saturdays were with his kids. My mom tried to man the family home evening every week.

My folks set the bar pretty high and I’m still swinging for that standard. But when our kids were home, Merri Ann made her caramel popcorn—it seemed like on every occasion, movies and family home evening. Her caramel popcorn made up for less than perfect family home evenings.

She was quick. She had long ago, memorized the recipe. It seemed like the candy was cooked as soon as the popcorn was popped.

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We have a popcorn e-cookbook that we give away, The Popcorn Handbook, that includes Merri Ann’s caramel popcorn recipe. The recipe follows or get the free popcorn handbook.

As I write this, we’re working on candy popcorn recipes in our test kitchen. Becka made a candy popcorn without any brown sugar or caramel flavor. It’s pale and not very caramelly but it’s her base recipe. She’ll keep adding to it, to duplicate Merri Ann’s caramel popcorn. When we’re through, we’ll turn it into a caramel popcorn mix and recipe.

I’ve got a popcorn cookbook at home. We’ll tinker with some of those recipes to create our own. If you get the free popcorn handbook now, we’ll automatically send you more recipes when they’re done.

Get The Popcorn Handbook free here.

From the popcorn handbook, we developed popcorn kits, kits that make six batches of candy popcorn in flavors like Bubba’s Friday Night Root Beer Popcorn and Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree Apricot Popcorn.

Get a popcorn kit to make six batches of popcorn for $6.

Merri Ann’s Caramel Popcorn Recipe

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup white corn syrup (Karo)
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Yields 14 cups of candy popcorn.

This recipe can also be doubled successfully. If you would like a richer caramel, substitute another 1/2 cup brown sugar for the granulated sugar.

  1. Pop the popcorn kernels. Set aside in 2 large bowls.
  2. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Add the corn syrup and water.  Stir.
  4. Add both sugars.  Make sure not to let any sugar stick to the edges of the pan. If one grain of sugar is left undissolved, it can cause the whole batch to crystallize.
  5. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 235-245 degrees. (Please use a candy thermometer). It is important for the mixture to reach this temperature, if it doesn’t the candy will not harden properly.
  6. Add the baking soda and stir quickly as the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbly and frothy, remove the pan from heat.
  7. Add the flavor and food coloring until mixed in.

Pour over the popped popcorn in both bowls. Fold into the popcorn until evenly coated.

Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie treats are made for Family Home Evening. Everyone loves them and you don’t have to bake them so they’re easy on Mom on a busy day. The kids would probably go for Rice Krispie Treats every Monday but they don’t always have to be the same. We discovered that you can add jam to your treats or white chocolate or chocolate or peanut butter.

You guessed it: We have an e-cookbook for that too. Get the Rice Krispie Treats book here.

Whoopie Pies

These aren’t quite as quick and easy as candy popcorn or Rice Krispie Treats but your kids will go nuts over them.

These are made with a cream cake batter, which is a little thicker than grocery store mixes. It makes these nice rounded disks which you fill with buttercream frosting or whipped cream. Then tip the sandwiches upside down in melted chocolate frosting. With these, we drizzled a little extra chocolate on them.

Of course you can use other flavors and colors.

Right now, check out our After Christmas Sale. Check the “Neighbor Gifts” category and you’ll find this Vanilla Bean Cake Mix for only $2.99.

The Recipe for Whoopie Pies

Basic Whoopie Pies

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A whoopie pie is constructed with two cake-like cookies made into a sandwich with a filling between them.   An easy way to make the cookies is with a cake mix.  But a cake mix spreads too much—especially the light, airy mixes you get from the grocery store–and you have to add flour to thicken the batter.  A very thin batter may require a cup of additional flour.

Here is how to make whoopie pies with our Vanilla Bean Baby Cake Mix.  Raspberry tidbits (baking chips) were added to the batter.

Step 1.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2.  Mix the batter according to instructions adding 1/2 cup flour to thicken the batter.

Step 3.  Scoop mounds of batter onto the baking sheet leaving plenty of room for spread.  Since these are sizable, you’ll probably want only 12 cookies on a large baking sheet.  Make the mounds as round as possible.  We use an ice cream scoop with a one-inch diameter.  The tendency is to make the mounds too large.

Step 4.  Bake the cookies for 9 to 10 minutes or until done.  Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Step 5.  Mix buttercream frosting or make marshmallow cream for the filling.  A mix is an easy way to make buttercream frosting.  You can color and flavor it as you choose.  We have marshmallow cream recipes  on our website for vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cherry marshmallow cream.

Step 6.  Pair the cookies so that each cookie in a pair is similar in size and shape.  Either spread or pipe frosting onto one cookie and place the other cookie on top of the frosting so that you have a sandwich cookie with the tops of the cookies facing out.

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About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.

Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.