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In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, corn syrup, vanilla bean and cacao nibs. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn, tossing to coat evenly. Divide the caramel corn between 2 parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the popcorn is sticky and caramelized, about 1 hour. Cool the popcorn on sheet pans, stirring often for the first few minutes (so it doesn't stick together). Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.
This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.