Monday, January 04, 2010

Making: Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Spicy Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from The Craft of Baking and Smitten Kitchen

This is a salty, spicy grown-up caramel popcorn — the taste will surprise you if you are expecting traditional caramel popcorn, and may delight you if you were never into the original.

I used 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt in this recipe- the original recipe calls for a lot more so adjust the salt to your liking and more importantly the amount of cayenne pepper to your liking.

The first batch I made into a traditional caramel popcorn by leaving out the spice or nuts. I am mixing this with a couple batches of plain popcorn, m$ms, pretzels, some kind of cereal, and what ever else sounds good to use as a snack for the cub scout pack meeting tonight.

But for my family, we will be having the spicy version. - Grown up CrackerJacks

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
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

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 and don’t fuss if it doesn’t all come out of the pot — you’ll have plenty. 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.

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