Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

An easy new year's eve snack. I didn't put enough cayenne pepper for it to be noticeable right away. It left more of a light tingle on the tongue about 20 seconds after eating. And I couldn't taste the salt at all, but one of the tasters commented on it. However, he might have been the one to get one of the coarse salt bits. Based on a recipe from SmittenKitchen.
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 c popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 t soda
  • 1/4 to 3/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2-3 T butter
  • 1/2 T kosher salt or 1-1.5 T coarse sea salt
  • water
  1. Grease 2 baking sheets or large serving plates, a large rubber spatula, and a large mixing bowl with a thin amount of oil.
  2. Pop the popcorn with 1 T butter (melt butter over med heat, add kernels, cover and shake until 2 sec between pops).
  3. Transfer to greased bowl, not letting the un-popped kernels go in.
  4. Combine cayenne pepper and baking soda in a small bowl. If your cayenne pepper is strong use less. If you like it spicy use more. I only used 1/4 t. Mine was very weak.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter, salt and 1/3 c water. Cook on high heat, without stirring, until mixture turns light golden-yellow or very light brown. About 5-10 min.
  6. Remove from heat and whisk in soda-pepper mixture.
  7. Immediately pour over popcorn. Don't worry about scraping all the caramel out - there will be plenty.
  8. Toss the popcorn with the spatula to coat.
  9. Quickly spread on greased plates. Spread out flat and separate into chunks while still warm.
  10. Cool to room temperature and store in ziplock bag or airtight container.
  • Add in 2 cups of peanuts, pecans, almonds or cashews.
  • No cayenne? Try paprika or chili powder - you'll need more since these are less spicy.
  • Bake the corn at 250F/120 C stirring every 20 min for an hour to let the caramel really ooze into the popcorn.
  • Shape into balls instead, wrap in plastic and tie with a ribbon for an edible ornament gift.
  • For a less sweet version, cut the sugar in half.

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