Sep 28

The Cup of Truth: A Life Lesson From Caramel Corn

by Hannah Holt »


caramel corn

Caramel corn is one of our favorite fall snacks. It’s crunchy and oh so delicious! It’s easy to make, too, as long as you have a Cup of Truth nearby.

What’s a Cup of Truth?

It’s simple. I keep a cup of ice water on the counter next to my caramel pot. When I think the caramel is finished I take a small spoonful of syrup and drop it into the ice water (aka: Cup of Truth). The water cools the molten caramel quickly, so I can test to see if it’s reached the perfect hardness.

Removing the caramel from the heat too soon turns it into a sticky mess. This type of caramel corn will dislodge dental fillings!

Removing the caramel too late will burn it. YUCK.

There’s a small window of caramel perfection. Hence the need for a Cup of Truth.

cup of truth

My kids all hang out around the Cup-o-Truth because they like sneaking cool bits of caramel before the full batch is ready. While they linger for sweet snitches, I talk to them about feelings and stuff. I say, feelings can be like a pot of boiling caramel.

Sometimes someone does something so mean it makes you bubble with rage. You might even want to spill your thoughts right then and there.

But friendships can been ruined unnecessarily that way…and dental fillings, too.

How do you know if feelings are truth or just heat-of-the-moment steam?

Put them in the Cup of Truth.

  • take a breath
  • take a walk
  • sleep on it
  • put it on ice

Once feelings have cooled, it’s easier to see what (if anything) needs to be discussed. Then you can speak with confidence, knowing the words will be the right words. (And not a sticky mess.)

Okay, now who’s hungry?

Carmel Popcorn

1 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

5 quarts popped popcorn

  1. Melt butter in a thick bottomed pot on low heat.

  2. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt to the pot. Then increase the heat to medium and stir until boiling.

  3. Boil for about four minutes without stirring. The caramel will resemble the color of a brown paper bag when finished. Check for hard crack readiness by spooning small amounts into a cup of ice water. The caramel should be crunchy (not squishy).

  4. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and soda. Mix well.

  5. Use a spoon to drizzle the popcorn with the hot caramel. Stir the popcorn with a spoon every few minutes until completely cool. This will keep it from clumping together.

  6. Enjoy!

  1. Tina Cho

    Great object lesson and yummy recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks, Hannah!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Tina. Do you have baking soda and vanilla in Korea? When I lived in Austria, I couldn’t always find the same baking supplies. It made for interesting baking improvising.

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill

    I’m not a talented enough cook to ever attempt caramel… although I’m very happy to eat it :) … but your life lesson is such an important one! Very good advice :)

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Susanna. As long as you don’t burn it, caramel actually tastes pretty good no matter how it turns out. You should give it a try sometime. :)

  3. Sarah Frank

    This is going to ruin my diet, lol. Mmmm. I love the cup of truth idea.

    • Hannah Holt

      Ha! You know you want it.

  4. Niki

    I love caramel corn as well. I have never heard of the cup of truth trick, I will have to try that. Nice parallel lesson, I will pin that for when Becky is a little older. One thing I discovered with caramel corn is that you can sub honey for the corn syrup. Tastes a little sweeter, but I really like it that way. Thanks for posting!

    • Hannah Holt

      The cup is a life saver. I’m always losing my candy thermometer, and it takes some of the mystery out of making caramel. I’ll have to try the honey trick.

  5. Verena

    Fantastic! I know what we’re having for family home evening tonight. (Both the treat and the lesson).

    • Hannah Holt

      I hope you enjoyed it. :)