Bacon Cashew Caramel Popcorn

On Saturday night I went to see some of my very favorite people in the world and the house that they bought recently.  In addition to bringing peperonata and crackers and fresh mozzarella I brought this popcorn with me as well to munch on after dinner. Wow was it great. I had never made caramel corn before so I was concerned about how it would come out but I worried needlessly-this was EXCELLENT and really easy to make.  Just enough salty and sweet and crunchy. It really could become addicting very quickly.

Before I started I googled the original recipe from Bon Appetit and there were so many complaints from people about how many pots and pans they used etc… I thought it was pretty funny considering if you read the recipe you’ll see that you need a few. I can’t say that there was all that many though. But not to worry-I made a few adjustments to the orignal recipe that save some pans and washing time.  Caramel is pretty sticky and it will be hot for a while.  Best to let it cool in the pan and then soak the pan in some hot water-it will wash right off (unless you burn it) or wait until it’s cool enough then eat it with a spoon right from the pan :).

Caramel corn

Bacon Cashew Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 4-4.5ozs organic, unsalted air-popped popcorn*
  • 6-12 ozs bacon, cooked and chopped into various sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup cashews, raw and unsalted, chopped into various sized pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  3. In a very large metal bowl (large enough to fit all of the popcorn and ingredients and be stirred) combine the popcorn, bacon, cashews and salt and stir until evenly distributed. Set aside. Spray 2 metal spatulas or spoons (or 1 of each) with non-stick spray. Set them aside.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed medium sized sauce pan over medium heat combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and 1 tsp salt.  Using a candy thermometer bring to the soft ball stage (if you’re not using a candy thermometer bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.  The caramel will get poufy. Stir it well to make sure that everything is evenly combined.  Pour it over the popcorn in the large bowl and using 2 spoons or spatulas, stir and fold everything together until evenly distributed (don’t forget the little bits at the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Spoon the popcorn onto the baking sheets making an even layer on each.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes until caramel is shiny and coats the popcorn, giving the baking sheets a turn halfway through and stirring if needed.  If any large clumps appear break them up with a spatula.
  7. Remove from oven and place the baking sheets onto cooling racks until popcorn has cooled.

Note: For cooling the popcorn I removed the popcorn from the baking trays when it was cool enough to touch-about 15 minutes, and transferred it to a large colander and placed it outside in the 20degree shade to cool.  Since the baking sheets had non-stick spray residue on it I did not want that absorbed into the popcorn to make it mushy.

*You can also use 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and pop them as per the manufacturer instructions.  To save time and pans though I bought a bag from Fairway that was popped fresh and unsalted.  Saved me having to clean a pot and a lid and possibly burning it  (which I tend to do).  Besides-a 6oz bag was on sale for $1.99 that day-so I saved money too.

Makes enough to fill 1 gallon-sized Ziplock bag.

Adapted quite a bit from Bon Appetit.

Tim goes crazy for it too!! 2 of his favorites-bacon and caramel-in one place.

popcorn timmy

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