Grandma's caramel corn was always PERFECT. It was soft but not chewy, and perfectly coated (or at least that's how I remember it). I've honestly been scared to make my own because I didn't want to ruin that memory, and most of the homemade caramel corn I've had just didn't cut it. But this recipe has a great tip for getting everything coated - putting it in an oven in-between mixings so the caramel can soften up. The only thing I would do differently is maybe not leave it in quite so long in-between, because one batch seemed to have just a bit of a burnt taste to it. I'm definitely over my fear of making caramel corn.
5 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Put the popped popcorn in a large pot, and place in a 350° oven. (This will keep it warm while you make the caramel and make it easier to stir.) Combine the sugars, corn syrup, water and 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and heat until it reaches 400° on a candy thermometor. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and salt. Remove the popcorn from the oven; pour the caramel mixture over and stir with a wooden spoon. When the caramel hardens and it is difficult to stir, put the popcorn back into the oven. After 10 minutes, remove the popcorn from the oven and re-stir to coat the popcorn. Continue returning the popcorn to the oven as many times as necessary. When the popcorn is evenly coated, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to prevent clumping - do not over-stir at this point. Pour the popcorn out onto a clean countertop and separate out the kernels. Allow to cool.
I hope the instructions are correct - I took the cookbook back to the library after typing the ingredients but before typing the instructions. :-) I think I pretty much got it right.