If you’re looking for a snack that’s a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and definitely crunchy, why not caramel popcorn? Sure, you can buy a tin of it, but why not make your own? You’ll know what goes into it, and let’s face it: food always tastes better homemade.
The recipe is surprisingly easy, if just a little time consuming. It’s a matter of popping the popcorn, making some caramel sauce, combining, and then baking. Using maple syrup instead of corn syrup really enhances the flavor of this delicious snack without completely overpowering it. Adding in some nuts gives some variety to the texture. Finally, just a little extra salt transforms this popcorn into decadent clusters of salted caramel. If you want to eat this as individual kernels of popcorn, let the popcorn cool out of the oven separate, but if you want to eat and serve it more like clusters, press the popcorn together with buttered hands right after baking and before it cools. Read below for this fantastic recipe…
Salted Caramel Popcorn
(makes 16 cups)
- 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup whole almonds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large, lidded saucepan, warm 3 kernels with the 1 tablespoon oil. If you don’t have a pan large enough to handle about 12 cups of popcorn, make in two batches
- Once those three kernels pop, add the rest of the corn kernels to the pan and shake to coat with oil. Put the lid on the pan.
- Pop the corn, shaking the pan occasionally until the popping slows.
- Empty the popped corn into a large mixing bowl, and try to pull out as many unpopped kernels as possible so they don’t end up in the mix.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter then mix in the sugar, maple syrup and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Once the sugar is completely moistened, increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat to medium.
- Boil for 3-4 minutes without stirring.
- Add baking soda and vanilla to the caramel mixture, stirring until you have a thick, even, glossy sauce.
- Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn, while stirring the popcorn (it’ll help to have two people). Optionally, add the nuts to the popcorn at the same time as the caramel sauce. Continue to stir the popcorn and the sauce until it’s all well coated.
- Divide the popcorn between the two baking sheets and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt on top, then place in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
- Allow popcorn to cool completely, or use buttered fingers to clump the popcorn and nuts together to form bunches if desired.
Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups