Perfect for when the kids are home for a snow day.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt (more if you like it salty)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ounces bagged or regular popcorn
1/3 cup almonds or nuts (optional)
Note: My candy thermometer has disappeared. So in terms of minutes, the longer you boil the caramel the stickier and harder it becomes. Boil the caramel for only 3 minutes and it will set with a gooey, soft caramel texture. I usually boil for about 5 for a sticky, chewy caramel. Go for 7 minutes and the caramel will set brittle. Also, you can mold the popcorn into balls while still warm if desired. Unfortunately our popcorn gets eaten so quickly shaping it is pointless.
Put butter, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract into a saucepan set over medium heat. Stirring frequently, allow mixture to boil on medium heat for 3-7 minutes (see note). Meanwhile pop one bag (or 3 ounces) of popcorn in the microwave or popper and pour into a large bowl along with the nuts, if using. While still warm, drizzle the caramel over the popcorn tossing with a rubber spatula. The caramel will be hot so allow the popcorn to sit for 5 minutes to cool. Adjust salt as desired.
ETA: you know, I say it's perfect for kids, but really sometimes I "forget" to tell them I made it. I mean if they're too busy playing and they don't see the snack sitting on the counter it's not really my fault they missed it, right?