Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

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I had to get up early today to take my son on a class trip so I made this last night. I almost couldn’t stop eating eat. It’s like Cracker Jack for adults. I’ll be making this again tomorrow for the office.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from The Craft of Baking

 

Makes 4 quarts

Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted peanuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see Note)
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt (see Note)

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas, a very large mixing bowl and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.

In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels. Toss with salted peanuts, if using.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking-soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up).

Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and don’t fuss if it doesn’t all come out of the pot — you’ll have plenty. Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together, as if you were tossing a salad, until the popcorn is well coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks or two minutes, if you’ve got a family like mine.

This is where I found the recipe here at Smitten Kitchen.

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2 thoughts on “Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

  1. What flavor profile does the Cayenne add to the sweetness of the caramel and the saltiness of the salt? Im assuming it brings the spice.. but can you explain it to me? Whats it taste like?

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    1. I’m not sure I can really describe it more than giving the sweetness a kick. I think I might use more cayenne the next time to see what happens. But once you start, you really can’t stop.

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