Spicy Caramel Popcorn
Nothing goes with movies, or television, like popcorn. [Except maybe ice cream and cookies. Although those go well with everything. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, that’s beside the point.]
I love caramel corn, and this is a kicked-up, spicy adult version. What I would not give to eat a handful or two of this right now… my body is going through processed sugar withdrawal! Seriously. I haven’t had a dessert in over a week.
It was really easy to make, and it would have been even easier if I hadn’t burnt half of the popcorn. It also would have taken less time, but we’re talking a matter of minutes here so it’s not a big deal. Besides, the final product would be worth it even if it took an hour to make. But as it was, it’s maybe 30 minutes work. And it’s so yummy.
I don’t think I let my caramel for long enough on the stove because the final product wasn’t as brown as I’d hoped. Interestingly, it looks like caramel corn in the photo above (taken in artificial light) and like normal popcorn in the photo below (taken in natural light). Hmmmm.
If you like spicy and you like sweet and you like popcorn, I can make a safe bet that you’ll like this caramel corn. And now I’m going to start dreaming of all the yummy things I’m going to eat when I get back to the States in two weeks. So far pizza and chocolate cake are at the top of my list!
Spicy Caramel Corn
(From Smitten Kitchen, who credits it to The Craft of Baking)
Makes 4 quarts
Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted peanuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see Note)
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt (see Note)
Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas, a very large mixing bowl and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.
In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels. Toss with salted peanuts, if using.
In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.
Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking-soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up).
Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together, as if you were tossing a salad, until the popcorn is well coated.
Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks