UPDATE: I made two batches of caramel corn last night. I had some success with the bacon version and better success with the second, nuts and popcorn batch.
First, I was only so-so on the bacon. The sugar really overpowers it and it loses a lot of what I like bacon for, its salty bacon flavor. It was worth a try, but not something I would do again. It is a great conversation starter, though.
Second, cooking times. I lowered the stove top time for the caramel sauce down to 1 minute after it comes to a boil. More than that it scorches too easily. I also lowered the oven to 200 degrees after the first 15 minutes. Ovens vary, so it may just be mine, but the lower temp created a more even caramel effect, less toasty, which the first batch had.
Third, I started with a large roasting pan, then after about 20 minutes moved it to a baking sheet and I cooked the second batch on baking sheets. It was much easier than remembering to stir it every 5 or 10 minutes.
I’ve made the changes below.
Yes, you heard me right.
I was searching around for a good caramel corn recipe, I wanted it to have cashews for sure. Then I stumbled across one that included bacon and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I looked over a half a dozen or so caramel recipes and put together one I thought was both simple and tasty. Then I added the bacon and cashews. I’m planning on making this over the weekend – I’ll update you if there are any changes.
You can use the basic caramel recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired. The recipe lends itself to just plain caramel corn if you like, or use dried fruits or other imaginative ingredients to make it your own. I think the possibilities are endless. But I think a salty addition is necessary to complement the sweetness of the caramel.
Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn
Note: You can use the basic recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired.
- 8 oz maple smoked bacon, cut into eight pieces per strip
- 12 cups (3 quarts) of popped corn
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups cashews (or peanuts, or peanut/cashew mix)
roasting pan baking sheets
In skillet, cook bacon until mostly crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Reduce to 200 degrees after 15 minutes of baking.
Place popcorn into a well-greased roasting pan.
In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened,
about 3 minutes – 1 minute worked better. Remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda (yes, it will foam up). Gently stir nuts and bacon into sugar mixture and pour over popcorn, toss, coating popcorn evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is a deep golden brown, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours – mine was done at the 1 hour mark. Cool and break apart.