1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup broken salted pretzel bits
1 cup broken salted potato chips
Preheat Dutch Oven over medium heat for 1 minute.
Add oil and gently tilt the Dutch Oven to coat the bottom of the pot. Add popcorn kernels in one layer across the bottom of the pot and immediately cover with the lid. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pot every 20 seconds or so during the first few minutes to prevent burning.
Continue to cook over medium heat, shaking the pot frequently, until popping slows to 3-4 seconds between, about 5-6 minutes total. When it sounds like all the kernels have popped, remove the lid and transfer popcorn to a large mixing bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add chopped pecans, chocolate, pretzel bits, and broken chips to the bowl.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with a silicone mat.
Wipe out the Dutch Oven to remove any popcorn debris. Add sugar, water, and corn syrup and whisk just to combine. Return the Dutch Oven to medium heat and cook, without stirring, until caramel is a deep amber in color and reads 365˚F on an instant-read thermometer (you can swirl the pot occasionally to ensure the caramel cooks evenly). Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt, and baking soda (careful – it will bubble up!).
Working quickly, pour caramel sauce over the popcorn mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until coated. Spread mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and let sit at cool room temperature until caramel is crunchy and chocolate has solidified again, about 1 hour.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Or, for extra crunchy and long-lasting caramel corn, store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.