Saturday, 19 December 2009

Tasty candied popcorn

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I posted on my regular blog about my memories of eating Cracker Jack popcorn as child. Not really liking the taste of the commercial version as an adult, I started tweaking recipes for caramel corn until I finally came up with a tastier version. Commonly molasses is used, along with high fructose corn syrup. I was looking for a different flavor and definitely a way to leave out the HFCS. Besides the obligatory popcorn, you will need popcorn, nuts, butter, brown sugar, salt, cream of tartar, honey, espresso powder or instant coffee, and baking soda.


This is pretty tasty, and makes a great last minute gift. Easy to make with ingredients on hand, you may want to make a double batch.


Instead of peanuts, I substituted filberts because they are locally grown, and I love them. Any nut will work. Or leave them out. I chopped mine coarsely.



Add nuts to unseasoned popped corn. Mix. You will need 6 quarts of popped corn. To make the mixing easy, I divided it between two large bowls. Have this part ready before making the candy part.


In a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, salt, cream of tartar and espresso powder.



Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. If you like to use a candy thermometer cook the mixture to 260 degrees F or to hard ball stage.


Remove from heat and add baking soda. The mixture will foam up.



Divide the mixture between the two bowls of popcorn, and stir quickly to distribute the candy on the popcorn.


Bake at 200 degrees F, in 2 well oiled jelly roll pans, or lipped baking sheets for 1 hour. Stirring 2 - 3 times during the baking.



Cool, and break into small clusters and store in an airtight container.

CAFFEINATED JACK 6 quarts

6 quarts unseasoned popped popcorn
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
2 cups brown sugar
1 - 2 Tablespoons espresso powder (optional)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Divide popcorn and nuts between two large bowls. Oil baking pans and set aside.

In a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, espresso powder, cream of tartar and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. If using a candy thermometer cook until thermometer reads 260 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The mixture will foam up with the addition of the baking soda.

Pour the syrup mixture over the popped corn, half in each bowl. Stir the popcorn and caramel together quickly to mix. Spread the coated popcorn evenly on the baking pans and bake for 1 hour, stirring about 3 times and swapping pans if you need to, to ensure even baking. Remove from oven, cool and break up large pieces if necessary. Store in airtight container.

Warning: It's hard to make just one batch - Happy Holidays!