I try to stay away from Google when I’m creating a recipe, because I don’t want to be influenced by other bakers’ methods or ingredients. When I’m happy with my recipe I take a peek, and am usually surprised (and yes, maybe a little discouraged) to find out how many other people have already made my “original” idea.
And RATS…it happened again. I thought this was going to be at least a fairly new idea. My son, my husband and I were sitting around brainstorming ideas for caramel corn. (I love my caramel corn recipe, but it’s pretty basic, and I wanted something unusual.) I knew we were on a roll when the discussion turned to bacon. What goes with bacon? Maple, of course! And if you’re have maple, you must have pecans, right?
After we’d sampled it over and over and over, I checked the search engine, and pfffft – it’s been done. Sigh. I guess most things have already been done in one form or another – so I’ll just give you MY take on this tasty treat.
|Triple Trouble Caramel Corn!|| |
- 6 quarts popped popcorn
- 8 oz bacon (or more) chopped and cooked
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2 cups dark brown sugar (golden brown is fine, too!)
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon maple flavoring (Watkins is good, but I prefer Mapleine)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Heat oven to 250 F.
- Prepare two large, shallow pans by coating with cooking spray. (I used coconut oil instead, and it worked pretty well.)
- In a very large bowl or roasting pan, combine popcorn, cooked bacon, and pecans. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the brown sugar, honey, and salt. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil.
- Without stirring, allow the mixture to continue cooking at a low boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the maple flavoring and baking soda. (It will foam up a little.)
- Pour over the popcorn and stir to combine. Divide between the two pans, spreading the popcorn mixture as evenly as possible.
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The mixture will seem soft when you're stirring it, but don't worry - it will crisp up nicely when it cools.
- Remove from oven and cool completely in the pans. Break apart.
- Store in airtight container.
I implore you to cook up the popcorn in a big pan or an air popper. The stuff in the microwave bags is SO bad for you. I know, I know, butter and sugar aren’t exactly health foods, but at least they are real. The microwave bags have a coating inside that is really gross. It’s honestly not hard to make popcorn “from scratch”!
If you want the plain Jane version (just like Cracker Jack), substitute unsalted or lightly salted peanuts for the pecans, and skip the bacon. Use 1 teaspoon vanilla instead of the 1 tablespoon maple flavoring. Or…gussy it up with a variety of nuts. Almonds, cashews, walnuts…all are yummy.
I wish you could see my kitchen right now. I made a peanut batch first. Then I tried the maple/bacon/pecan batch, but wasn’t happy with it (maple syrup in the sugar solution didn’t work out well, and I chopped the bacon and pecans too small) so I tried again. Each of these batches makes about 5 quarts, so just picture 13 quarts (hey, we had to try some of it!) of caramel corn. Yikes! I’m going to have to find someone to give some of this to or else dig out my “fat pants.”
Think crisp cellophane bags with pretty ribbons and a little silk poinsettia. What a welcome hostess gift this would make!