I added some honey roasted peanuts for a little extra "oomph" but you could use any nuts you'd like or no nuts at all. I even saw a recipe that used chocolate chips! I chose honey roasted peanuts because they are tasty, were a good price ($2.49 for the container) and seemed like they would go great. If you use a larger nut like cashews, chop them roughly so that every bite will get some cashew without having to add a ton to the recipe.
The recipe calls for chili powder and cayenne which I thought would be a fun twist. Mid-recipe I realized that I was out of chili powder so I just used cayenne. I added about 1/4 tsp but next time will increase it a bit. If you don't want the spice, just skip it and you'll have a great, basic caramel corn!
Total Recipe cost: $1.23
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Cost per serving: $0.21
Prep time: 10 min. Cook time: 35 min. Total: 45 min.
|2 Tbsp||vegetable oil||$0.08|
|1/2 cup||popcorn kernels||$0.18|
|1.5 cups||granulated sugar||$0.24|
|1 tsp||baking soda||$0.04|
|1/2 cup||honey roasted peanuts||$0.51|
STEP 1: Place 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and one popcorn kernel in a large pot over high heat with a lid. Wait for the kernel to pop then add the rest of the 1/2 cup of kernels. Swirl the kernels in the pot to coat them with oil and then wait for them to pop. When the popping slows (just like with microwave popcorn) remove it from the heat. I like to keep the lid slightly ajar as they pop to let steam out but keep the jumping kernels in.
STEP 2: In a small pot, combine the water, sugar, butter and salt. Place the pot over medium heat and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture until it is a light gold color (see photos below).
STEP 3: While the sugar mixture is boiling, remove any unpopped kernels from the popcorn and add the nuts. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
STEP 4: Once the sugar mixture becomes golden, remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda and spices (cayenne, chili powder or none). Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and nuts and stir to combine. Work quickly as you stir because the mixture will harden as it cools. Pour the popcorn/nut/sugar mix out onto the baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Let the mix cool for 5-10 minutes before eating to let the caramel sauce harden.
Step By Step Photos
Place a lone kernel in a pot with vegetable oil and heat over high flame with a lid in place.
When the one kernel pops, add the rest and swirl them around in the pot to coat with hot oil. Keeping the lid slightly ajar, let the rest of the kernels pop.
Once the popping slows, remove the pot from the heat. KEEP THE LID IN PLACE FOR AT LEAST 30 SECONDS so that late poppers don't explode out the top.
Set the popcorn aside and allow to cool. Add 1/2 cup of nuts to the popcorn.
Combine the sugar, water, butter and salt in a pot. Place over medium heat with no lid and allow it to come to a boil.
It will look like this as it boils... thick and bubbly.
Allow the mix to boil until it turns a light golden color then remove it from the heat.
Add the baking soda and spices. When you add the baking soda it will turn orange-ish and get very foamy... this is normal :)"
Immediately pour the mix over the popcorn and nuts. Stir to combine. You will need to do this quickly because the sugar mix begins to harden as it cools.
Pour the mixture out onto a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray and bake at 250 degrees for about 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool before eating (molten sugar BURNS)!