Though I am a popcorn fanatic, caramel corn was not in my rotation until last year. I lean toward the savory flavors and often keep a bowl of balsamic glazed pops near my desk (consulate nibbler that I am). Possessed, however, by a sweet tooth the size of an elephant tusk I decided to cook a batch of caramel to indelicately dump over a bowl of freshly popped kernels and fell in love. Salty, sweet, and crunchy, this snack satisfies me in a dangerous way. I have to remove the bowl from my side after a few handfuls, otherwise I risk falling into the abyss of total consumption. And trust me, though it seems wise at the time, finishing the entire batch of caramel corn in one sitting is not pretty.
- 3/4 cup Popcorn Kernels
- 3 tbs Grapeseed Oil (or another neutral, high-heat oil)
- 4 small pucks Palm Sugar (260 Grams)
- 2 ounces Coconut Oil
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 1/2 ounces Honey
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 cups Salted Peanuts
- Add the popcorn and grapeseed oil to a large (8qt) stock pot. Put the lid on and turn the heat to high. When you hear the first few pops, slip oven mitts onto your hands and gently pick up the pot. Shake it back and forth a few inches above the heat while the popping continues and reaches its apex. Once the space between pops is one or two seconds long, you can put the pot down and turn off the heat. Remove the lid and set the popped corn aside.
- Now is the time to get things in order, for once the caramel is finished you will have to move quickly. Grease two large cookie sheets or one giant roasting pan with butter, oil, spray, whatever you have on hand. Set these aside, they will be the receptacle for your finished caramel corn. Get two wooden spoons or spatulas and keep them near the stockpot of popcorn.
- Time to make an easy caramel. In a heavy saucepan add the palm sugar, water, oil, and honey. Bring it to simmer over medium-high heat and allow the sugar to melt. Once everything is dissolved together cook it for another few minutes to thicken and darken the caramel further.
- Toss the salt, baking soda, and peanuts into the simmering caramel and give the saucepan a shake. Everything will bubble up as the carbon dioxide is released. Pour this hot, foaming caramel over the popped corn and stir quickly with the spoons or spatulas. Try, as best you can, to distribute the caramel, while it is still hot, through the pot of corn. It will linger in places and settle into large clumps, do not worry. This is par for the course.
- Dump the caramel corn out onto your cookie sheets or roasting pan. Press it down and distribute it with the spoons or spatulas, making it as even as possible (and still attempting to spread the caramel wealth). Allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes. The caramel will harden, at which point this treat will become irresistible. Devour it among friends.