Salted Caramel Popcorn

I can’t believe this is my 100th blog post! 🙂 This blog began a little over two and a half years ago when I was living in Turkey and finally had a big enough kitchen/oven to embark upon my baking (and sometimes, cooking) adventures. My love for baking would have not been possible without a few people who inspired and taught me along the way. Margot Conover is one of my main inspirations and she showed me that it was possible to bake anything, and that I didn’t need to go buy delicious baked goods when I had a craving for them – I think her espresso and spicy Mexican chocolate brownies were the most memorable things she ever baked for us. Numerous other people’s baking talents also stand out in my mind – Kristen Smart, especially the Irish car bomb cake truffles and braided lemon sweet cheese-filled bread, James Duncan Welke’s lemon bars, as well as numerous desserts by Brenda Kay Zylstra. In short, my desire to start baking would not have been realized had I not met these amazing people in Chicago 🙂 Later, when I was living in Turkey and finally started baking, Aisha Bradshaw taught me the basics of mixing butter and sugar, while Owen Barron with his pie-skills, as well as his spontaneity and imagination, showed me that baking and cooking didn’t always need to be a science. Though on the other side of spectrum, I had Matt Scroggs who always emphasized the science of measuring ingredients correctly, got me hooked to Food Network, and taught me to keep trying if my initial attempts resulted in underwhelming results. Maybe if I keep trying, one day I’ll be able to replicate my mom’s rajma chawal – a meal that I’ve never stopped craving. In short, I wouldn’t have felt half as passionate about this blog if it weren’t for these people!

Now that my emotional outburst is over, I’ll get back to talking about how easy it is to make salted caramel popcorn! I made some for the superbowl last weekend and they turned out pretty great. Next time I might try adding a little extra flavor as well – maybe some paprika for some kick. Before actually starting this recipe, I would highly recommend having everything ready to go – the caramel hardens extremely fast, so if the popcorn isn’t already popped, or you don’t have your spatula in hand, then things might get difficult. Also, when you first mix the vanilla extract into the brown sugar and butter mixture which had been boiling on the stove, be careful! Since vanilla extract has alcohol in it, the mixture might splash,and unlike me, you should be smart enough to put the vanilla extract into the mixture either more gently or from a distance.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Special equipment

  • Large heatproof mixing bowl
  • Heatproof spatula
  • 2 baking sheets
  • Parchment paper or silpats

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
  2. Make the popcorn
  3. Make the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely moistened. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 4-5 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously. The longer you cook the syrup, the crunchier it will be. For very crunchy popcorn, stop cooking when you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the sugar mixture.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat, add the vanilla, kosher salt, baking soda, and any extras, and stir until combined. Be careful – The sugar mixture will bubble up violently. Continue stirring until you form a thick, glossy sauce.
  5. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring the popcorn . Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.
  6. Divide the popcorn between two baking sheets, spreading the popcorn out into an even layer. It’s ok if the popcorn clumps together. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps.
  7. When you take the trays out of the oven, sprinkle the baked popcorn with sea salt while it is still warm. Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.
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