Spicy Caramel Popcorn


This slightly spicy, delightfully sweet, salty, and crunchy caramel popcorn will make a wonderful Christmas gift or snack. I shared a bit yesterday with some friends and colleagues. It was unanimously approved by friends and colleagues alike. It’s based on this recipe from Martha Stewart. I just used mixed nuts instead of peanuts and added just a touch more cayenne. Be sure to watch Martha’s video for the technique.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with mixed nuts

Spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy … what’s not to love?

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with Mixed Nuts

4 quarts popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon (slightly  heaping) cayenne pepper
1 cup salted mixed nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, … your favorite mix)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop the popcorn – use your favorite method. Spread out evenly on two half-sheet pans lined with silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until well blended then add the corn syrup and stir to blend well. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture turns golden brown. Stir in the salt and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and use a heat proof plastic spatula that’s been sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray to gently toss the popcorn with the syrup mixture.

The caramel mixture will be very hot – please be careful!

Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully turning and mixing with the spatula about halfway through. You want a nice, even coating of caramel on the popcorn and nuts.

Allow to cool, then gently break apart into bite sized pieces.

This recipe has officially become part of my Christmas recipe repertoire. I’ll be making this again … probably at least once before Christmas because I know a few on my gift list will want some of this!

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