I wanted to end my week of fancy finger food with a snack particularly fitting for the Oscars: popcorn! I have a serious love affair with popcorn. It’s light and an easy munchie, but the fun really comes from playing with new flavor ideas. This Praline Caramel Corn is from our drive from Boston to Florida two years ago. Ryan was playing in Venezuela that year for winter ball, and we had five days from the night the season ended to report to Miami. I wanted to do something non-baseball related in our short stint between driving, and booked two nights at a hotel in Savannah. We went on our Nearly Fatal Food Crawl, and ate just about everything in sight, but one of the most memorable treats we tried were fresh pralines. Pralines are caramel and nut clusters, and when they are freshly made, just melt in your mouth. They are unbelievably delicious. I wanted to recreate that warm, gooey, nutty taste and texture by making it into a popcorn snack, and the results were just as great as our experience in Savannah.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes
12 cups plain popcorn, or about 1 cup kernels before popping
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbs corn syrup
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over a cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray.
- Heat a large pot to medium-high heat. Melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the mix reaches a dark gold color. Remove the pot from the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. Stir very carefully. Add the popcorn and fold so that everything is coated and nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the mix onto the parchment paper in a single layer. Add the pecans and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing the popcorn every 5 minutes, until the caramel is a deep brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cool surface to cool. When it is cool enough to touch, break into pieces with a spoon or your hands.
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