The first time I ever made salted caramel, I burnt it, leaving a scalded reddish brown shell of hardened sugar in my saucepan - something I was certain would never come out. Luckily, after some soaking, it did and brushed it off and started all over. That was when I fell in love with salted caramel. Now it is one of my absolute favorite things to create in the kitchen and I have made it several times. This popcorn is the perfect fusion of sweet & salty. I wanted to do something like the revelation that is the Baked sweet & salty brownie, but in popcorn form. The salty, crunch of the almonds and pecans and the rich, chocolate crunch of the toffee with the salted caramel make this popcorn so addictive. You might want to make two batches (one for yourself and the other for the trick or treaters, because you won't want to share!) ; ) - tiptoesinthekitchen —tiptoesinthekitchen
Test Kitchen Notes
I’d never made caramel corn before, so I feel I lucked out trying this recipe. Tiptoesinthekitchen provides clear, step-by-step instructions for making a caramel coating that's the perfect consistency, and for baking the combined mixture. (Next time though, I might toast the nuts before mixing them with the popcorn and caramel.) The only part of the recipe I had trouble with was the very last instruction: “Try to share.” Studded with both almonds and pecans, and crunchy morsels of toffee, this stuff is outrageously tasty. Two sweet, slightly salty, sticky thumbs up!!- ?Antonia James —The Editors
light corn syrup
2.8 oz. bags of natural unsalted microwave popcorn
English toffee bar, roughly chopped (add as much as you like - I used 6 small pieces & chopped those up).
Put the sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar and syrup are dissolved.
Put a lid on the pan and cook undisturbed for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the lid but do not stir and increase the heat to medium-high, shaking the pan to swirl the contents around every so often so the mixture doesn't burn. Resist the temptation to stir! Continue shaking the pan every so often and monitor closely as the caramelization process does not take very long. Once all of the mixture has a fairly dark amber color to it, remove from heat (as it will continue to cook) and will otherwise burn.
Make sure you are wearing pot holders so you don't burn your hands and lowly add the heavy cream while whisking, (the mixture will seize up pretty quickly, so don't be alarmed). Then add the butter and salt and stir until the butter is melted.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put your popped popcorn in a large bowl and make sure to pick out & discard all stray kernals. Gently mix in the hot caramel sauce with a spatula (preferably a silicone one so it won't be as sticky), making sure to coat all of the popcorn. Fold in the pecan pieces and the almonds.
Spread the popcorn mixture out onto the baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes, tossing the mixture a little at the halfway mark. Be careful not to bake much longer than that, because otherwise it will become too hard & chewy & the popcorn will lose it's light, popcorn flavor and texture.
After you take the popcorn out of the oven, let it cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, before transferring it into a large serving bowl. Gently stir in the toffee bits (I like to refrigerate them while the popcorn is baking so they don't melt once you incorporate them).