I don’t really know why but there seems to be something about boys and caramel pop-corn. Don’t get me wrong.. I know enough girls who like caramel popcorn but the boys I know are crazy about this stuff. Stark raving crazy. They will actually go watch a film JUST to eat the caramel popcorn. And actively check their mental rating sheet on which theatre serve the best stuff. And choose a film based on the theater that serves the corn they like. And this is film-makers I am talking about. Like I said. Craaazy. for caramel popcorn I mean. Ahem.
So for Atul’s birthday, it only seemed fitting that Caramel Popcorn be on the menu. But you know me.. I can’t really leave things well alone. So I added bacon. And a healthy dash of chilli. And ended up with crunchy goodness that is sweet and salty, smoky and spicy and seriously seriously addictive. Seriously seriously seriously addictive. Even if I say so myself.
Those of you who would rather not go the bacon way could use a cupful of peanuts. I’ve done that in the past and it works really well too. But if you can, please do me a favour and give the bacon a shot. You wont regret it. Pukka. Infact, next time, I plan to do both.
- 15 cups of freshly-popped popcorn, plain (I used microwave corn)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 6 strips of bacon, cut up in cubes
- chilli powder (to taste)
- 1 tsp oil
- Preheat oven to 120 degrees c. Grease a baking sheet.
- Pop the popcorn. Coat a large mixing bowl with oil. Pop the corn and pour into the oil coated bowl. Set aside.
- In a pan, heat the oil and fry up the bacon. Strain out the bacon pieces and reserve the fat.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, honey, fat from the bacon, butter, salt and water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Keep at a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. At this time, if you drop a teaspoonful of the caramel in a bowl of cold water, you should be able to make a ball of it with your fingers). If you havent reached the soft-ball stage yet, continue cooking the caramel till you do. If you do have a candy thermometer, cook until the mixture reaches 245-250 degrees F. Turn off the heat.
- Whisk the vanilla into the caramel. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn. Use an oil greased rubber/wood spatula to mix in the caramel till the popcorn is well coated. (Dont worry if you have trouble with the sticky caramel here... we will stir enough later to spread the caramel well.) Sprinkle the fried bacon and chilli powder on top and stir to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and spread out/flatten. G
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool. Try not to eat it all up immediately. The corn can be stored in an airtight container for upto a week but I doubt if you will have any left that long.