- Difficulty 2
- Prep Time 10 mins
- Cook Time 55 mins
- Serves 10
A super-simple stovetop caramel enriched with malty amber ale is the key to this treat’s off-the-hook flavour. The salty-sweet caramel ripples through a tasty mixture of popcorn and peanuts (or other favourite nuts) to create a snack that’s great for gifting — or for eating all by yourself!
- 10 cups (2.5 L) store-bought air-popped popcorn (see tips)
- 1-1/4 cups (310 mL) unsalted roasted peanuts (see tips)
- 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) amber ale (see tips)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) white corn syrup (see tips)
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda
- 1. Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- 2. In an extra-large mixing bowl, stir popcorn with peanuts. Set aside.
- 3. In a large, high-sided saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, amber ale, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often to recombine and keep mixture from bubbling over. Boil, whisking often, until mixture is a deep caramel colour and thickened to the consistency of liquid honey, about 7 minutes.
- 4. Remove saucepan from heat. Immediately stir in vanilla, and then baking soda. Working quickly, pour caramel over popcorn mixture, tossing constantly with a silicone or rubber spatula, until popcorn is well coated.
- 5. Spread mixture over prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until caramel is firm and shiny, 45 to 60 minutes (see tips).
- 6. Let cool completely on pan on a wire rack. Caramel corn will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
- If you have time, feel free to make your own popcorn. You’ll need about 1/3 cup (80 mL) kernels to make the 10 cups (2.5 L) called for here. Pop them in an air popper, or heat a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Remove lid and add a sprinkle of water; if it sputters, reduce heat to the low side of medium-low and add popcorn kernels. Put the lid back on and shake the pot every few seconds to keep the kernels moving. They should start popping after a couple of minutes. Continue shaking until you hear a marked decrease in popping sounds. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and let cool.
- Salted or unsalted toasted pecans, mixed nuts and/or almonds make great substitutions for (or additions to) the peanuts.
- A sweet, malty amber lager will work just as well as an amber ale. And bolder golden corn syrup can stand in for the white if you have it.
- The perfect caramel corn is crunchy and has a firm, shiny appearance. This could take up to 60 minutes of baking, depending on the consistency of your caramel. It will be worth the wait!