i made a few batches of this caramel corn to take to my coworkers as valentines last week. now, it is no secret that i tend away from corn and many other grains, but hey, life is short.
on that note, this stuff was awesome. it was crack-a-licious. i got a text late in the evening the day i gave it out declaring that i “rocked the corn”. -can i be honest here for a second? i know i rocked the corn. brian and i stole small pinches of it every time we walked past the counter. -a 2′x5′ counter-top loaded 2 inches thick with cooling caramel corn is no easy thing to pass by. oh, and the killer part is, it tastes best cool, so keep your mitts off of the hot stuff. just hold out for a bit. you’ll just burn your tongue, anyway.
this was pretty easy and fun to make. i had brian help me by popping the corn (he is really good at popcorn, it is his favorite snack), and helping me stir the caramel onto the popped corn. the steps may appear to be fairly labor intensive, but it just requires a little focus. -and keep your eye on the caramel, it burns quickly.
i found the recipe here, on satisfied, and modified it, omitting corn syrup and using honey instead. -see? it is healthy now. also, i drizzled melted dark chocolate over the cooled caramel corn to further any pleasurable value to it. anyhow, the version on chef louise mellor’s blog looks much more attractive, but hey, it’s her recipe. she’s better at it. thanks again for the recipe, and for helping me satisfy the sweet-tooth of 12 coworkers in a dental office!
the recipe calls for 4 quarts of popcorn, but since we were using kernels and popping it ourselves (rather than buying pre-popped), we winged it. i have no idea how much we actually used. i tried to keep it close to 15 cups, but i dunno. coulda been less. wing it.
this recipe will make enough to gift to about 6 people, in gallon sized bags. if you wish to increase it, i recommend doing separate batches given the large volume of popcorn, also because caramel can be tricky to work with in large batches.
salted cashew caramel corn
4 qts of popped corn
1 cup roasted, salted peanut halves
1 cup roasted, salted cashews
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 stick of buttah
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
pop your corn. SORT THROUGH FOR UNPOPPED KERNELS! we don’t want any broken teeth here. spread it and your nuts onto a few lightly greased roasting pan or deep cookie sheet and place in the oven at 250f while you prep the caramel. you want the popcorn and the nuts to get a little hot here so the caramel doesn’t melt the kernels.
in a large, heavy bottom pot, melt the butter over medium. once the butter is melted, add the sugar and honey. stir well. bring to a very gentle boil and set a timer for 5 minutes. allow to bubble and gently boil without touching it for that 5 minutes.
turn off the heat and stir in baking powder, salt, and vanilla. don’t do too much stirring here, the more you stir the more it cools. just mix in the goods and get out. it will turn the lighter brown color that we all know as caramel.
now move fast.
pull your popcorn out of the oven, and pour caramel over it as you have your baking partner fold and stir quickly, coating all of the popcorn.
this stuff will stiffen, becoming hard to work with, so coating quickly is key.
once everything is pretty much coated, stick it into the oven for 60 minutes. you will want to stir this every 20 minutes so the caramel doesn’t burn in the oven, and also to better coat the mixture.
after baking, dump out and spread onto a clean counter-top to cool. i sprinkled salt over the still warm popcorn just for kicks. let it cool for an hour or so, at least, before breaking into chunks and packaging.
to drizzle with chocolate:
combine 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 tbsp honey in a small saucepan over low heat, just until melted. stir stir stir. place into a pastry bag with a tiny tube attachment or ziplock with the corner cut. drizzle melted chocolate onto cool caramel corn. wait 2 hours or so to let it set before breaking up into chunks and packaging.