Since there is a perfect state for the sugar, making caramel can be difficult; I totally botched my first batch! It didn't get me down, and I gave it another try. Be sure the caramel has your undivided attention, and that the pot is centered on the burner. If you can find someone to help out with the process, it will make it even easier to deal with molten caramel.
Once you've mastered the technique for caramel, the rest is a piece of cake. I used a little bit of olive oil and the lunch paper bag method to simply pop the popcorn. Then to complete this sweet treat, microwave quality chocolate chips and drizzle over the caramel popcorn and macadamia nuts. Ready to munch your very own chocolate caramel popcorn? Keep reading.
Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 Tbs. vegetable oil, such as peanut or canola
1/2 cup popcorn kernels, preferably yellow kernels
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup macadamia nuts or favorite nuts
1/2 cup Guittard semi sweet chocolate chips
- Put the popcorn in a brown paper bag (if you're using 2/3 cup, you might want to split it into two paper bags), pour in 4 teaspoons of olive oil (or more for the larger amount), and close the bag with a piece of tape. Heat it on high in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Put it in a bowl. Add the macadamia nuts to the popcorn.
- Measure the baking soda into a small dish so it’s ready to go. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, foil, or nonstick silicone mats. In a 4-quart or larger saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Gently stir with a wooden or metal spoon just enough to immerse the sugar. Brush down the sides of the pot with water and a clean pastry brush. Cook the sugar mixture over high heat without stirring until it melts and bubbles and turns a very light golden caramel color on top; this will take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your stove. If you are using a candy thermometer which is recommended it should read about 310 degrees F. The caramel will be darker than it appears on the surface, so don’t overcook. At this point, remove the pot from the heat.
- Working quickly off the heat, thoroughly whisk the baking soda into the caramel. Do this in or near the sink in case it spills over. The baking soda aerates the caramel, which makes it easier to eat when it’s cool, but causes it to bubble vigorously now, so be careful. Immediately pour the bubbling caramel over the popcorn in the bowl. Only use the caramel that pours out easily; don’t scrape the sides of the pot.
- Using the heatproof spatulas, toss the caramel with the popcorn and nuts. When the popcorn and nuts are thoroughly coated, pour it onto the lined baking sheets and use the spatulas to pat it into one flat layer. As soon as it’s cool enough to touch, use your hands to break the layer into smaller clusters.
- Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Use a spoon and drizzle the chocolate over the top of the caramel popcorn and nuts. Let cool for up to an hour to let the chocolate set. Fill tins or small decorative plastic bags and label for gifts. Will keep for about a week in an air tight container.
Makes about 4 quarts.
- Snacks, Other
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