For Moose Munch Variation (see Notes for Peppermint Variation):
12ounceschocolate chips (semisweet or dark) or other quality real chocolateabout 2 cups
Optional add-ins like nuts or broken pretzels
Make the Caramel Corn:
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Pop the popcorn and spread it in a large, oiled roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven to stay warm and crisp (it also helps to spread the hot caramel evenly on warm popcorn).
Combine the butter, sugars, honey, and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir while mixture melts and starts gently bubbling. Set a timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly while mixture gently boils.
At the end of 5 minutes, remove from heat. Take the pan of popcorn out of the oven and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn, stirring to coat the popcorn evenly.
Return to oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring once at the 15 minute mark and again when it's done (a piece removed with a spoon should be crisp to the bite).
While caramel corn is cooking, prep a cooling area on a counter with two large pieces of waxed paper (or parchment).
Immediately pour the hot caramel corn onto the waxed paper and spread evenly to cool, breaking up bigger pieces with a fork so that there will be smaller pieces to coat with the chocolate.
Make Moose Munch Variation:
Divide the cooled caramel corn in half. Place one half in an airtight container and the other half in a large bowl.
Melt the chocolate and pour it over the caramel corn in the bowl; stir to coat well. If using any optional ingredients, sprinkle over or stir them in with the chocolate.
Spread the chocolate covered caramel corn back onto the waxed paper and use a couple of forks to separate the pieces as much as possible. You're aiming for individually coated pieces that will mix in with the plain caramel corn. Let cool completely (I usually wait overnight to be sure).
When the chocolate is firm, toss the plain caramel corn with the chocolate caramel corn. Bag up for gifts or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (I have even frozen this for a few weeks and it was still good!).
*The combo of the two types of sugar results in the best caramel corn.PEPPERMINT CRUNCH Caramel Corn Variation:
Coat half of the caramel corn with white chocolate (instead of semi sweet or milk chocolate).
Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the white chocolate coated caramel corn before it dries.
Mix together with uncoated caramel corn and bag up like usual.