My daughter made these in her Home Ec class. She said it was easy and fun. Just be sure that when you add the hot caramelization process that you let it cool just a little and you turn the bowl so that your popcorn doesn't wilt. That was her advice. She had two teams and one did and one didnt. The one that didn't turn their bowl had their popcorn wilt. OOPS. The other teams had nice fluffy popcorn with no melted M&Ms. But, it was a throwdown in her class so you can guess the team that won and they were 9th graders. That being said, she said it is a fantastic holiday snack and well worth making. I plan to make some soon.
Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine popcorn, peanuts, candies and cranberries in large bowl.
Bring all remaining ingredients to a boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and syrup is boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Boil, without stirring, 5 to 7 minutes or until mixture turn light caramel color. Boil an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until syrup is rich golden brown. (Watch carefully as syrup can darken quickly.)
Remove from heat. Pour over popcorn mixture; stir quickly to blend well. Immediately spread on baking sheet, spreading out as much as possible and using two forks to pull apart the clumps. Cool 15 minutes or until warm, break into pieces. Cool completely. Snack mix can be made up to 5 days ahead. Store in an airtight container. Makes 14 cups.