Like much of the country, we are having a day of weather and are advised to stay home. Perfect. That gives me time to make a few more treats for the holiday gift trays.
I love popcorn. The more salt and butter, the better. But my true weakness is caramel corn, so one year, when I was trying to think of something fun to give in those neighbor Christmas treat boxes, I decided to try my hand at caramel corn.
And to take it up a notch, I decided to make Bacon Caramel Corn. Recipe below.
But let’s begin with some other salty-sweet ideas for the holiday gift box.
Tex-Mex Popcorn Mix, recipe here.
White Cheddar Popcorn and Chili-Cheese Popcorn, recipes here.
And if popcorn is not your thing, how about some Cajun Spiced Nuts or Indian Spiced Nuts, recipes here.
And finally, the featured recipe:
If bacon isn’t your thing, just omit it from the recipe below to make regular caramel corn or caramel corn with nuts.
Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn
- 8 oz maple smoked bacon, cut into eight pieces per strip
- 12 cups (3 quarts) of popped corn
- 10 tbsp 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 salted cashews (or peanuts, or peanut/cashew mix)
Skillet, saucepan, baking sheets*
In a 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 onto well-greased baking sheets.
In a 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, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda (yes, it will foam up so be prepared). Gently stir nuts and bacon into the 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.
*most recipes call for a roasting pan, I had better luck on my second batch using baking sheets – the popcorn cooked more evenly and was very crisp.