Selfmade Caramel Popcorn

11:22 AM

1 3.5-oz package microwave popcorn (yield about 10 cups. It's best if it's not a strong, buttery flavor)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups salted cashews (or you can substitute peanuts or almonds)
A candy thermometer
1.Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Spray the sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Start by chopping the salted cashews coarsely, so that they're about the size of peanuts. They don't have to be in small pieces, but whole cashews are a little overwhelming in the popcorn mix, so I like to give them a little choppity-chop.
2.Pop the microwave popcorn and pour it into a large greased bowl. You're going to be doing lots of stirring, and adding other ingredients, so the bigger the bowl, the better!
3.Next, let's make some caramel! Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and water in a medium saucepan.

4.Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer.
5.Continue to cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 250 degrees F on the candy thermometer. This will probably take 3-6 minutes depending on your stove and the size of your pot.Watch the caramel carefully so it doesn't overcook.
6.As soon as the temperature reaches 250 degrees, pull the pan from the heat. Add the vanilla extract and the baking soda, and whisk until everything is well-combined.

8.After a moment or two of whisking, the baking soda will start to react and the caramel will foam up, and turn a lighter, opaque color with lots of bubbles. When you see this, it's ready to be poured on the popcorn. This is what you've been waiting for! Carpe diem!

9.Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir with a heatproof spatula until all of the kernels are coated.

10.Add the chopped cashews and stir until they're mixed into the popcorn and are also coated with a layer of caramel.

11.Spread the popcorn out on the prepared pan. Use the biggest sheet tray you have, so that it is in a single, even layer. If it is layered too thick, it won't cook evenly and you'll have patches of caramel popcorn that are burned, while other sections are underdone. If you need to, use two sheet trays to get the popcorn in a single layer.

12.After an hour, take the popcorn from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for half an hour. Gently break up any large clumps of popcorn with your hands, and once it's completely cool, your cashew caramel popcorn is ready to be enjoyed!

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