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Saturday, December 19, 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!



12 comments:

Lauren S said...

How important is the espresso powder?

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Not important at all - it's just a flavor. Some like it, some don't.

I'll edit the post and make that optional.

Lauren S said...

Great! I don't have that or instant coffee, so I was wondering.

prairierunner said...

This look so good on your blog I had to come and get the recipe!

Chiot's Run said...

I have a recipe I love as well. I often make mine in different flavors, sometimes I add almond flavoring (the all-natural of course) and add slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Sometimes I add maple syrup and pecans. The possibilities are endless.

I've never tried coffee, I'll have to do that next. I imagine it's like mochacchino

Sadge said...

I have a recipe using coffee liquer (aka Kahlua - I use a generic version) and less butter that I really like. I like the idea of using filberts - I have two little bushes I'm eagerly tending.

Sincerely, Emily said...

OH YUM!! I was going to ask about the flavor with the coffee, but some one beat me to it. I am not a coffee person so good to know it is just for a different flavor. The photos are very enticing!! Emily

Simple in France said...

Well, well, well. My inlaws in France were just dreaming about my mother's caramel corn that she sent one year. I don't think it's coming this time though. Looks like I now have a recipe that doesn't involve corn syrup--which you can't find in France and which makes me cringe. I like the idea of the nuts too.

Thistledog said...

This turned out absolutely delicious! And made plenty, too.

I've challenged my neighbors to figure out what the "secret ingredient" is... didn't tell them about the espresso powder. I put in 1.5 T. and it adds a depth of flavor without being overwhelmingly coffee-flavored.

Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Prairierunner, it is pretty good - but habit forming. I need to put it in containers right away or else :)

Susy, I was thinking of almond flavoring too, glad to hear you've already broke trail for me :)

Sadge, that sounds good, although I have been savoring my 30 year old bottle of Kahlua for a long time. At least something is getting better with age ;)

That does sound like a good combination though.

Sincerely Emily, LOL my HD isn't a coffee person either and he really likes this, but it is very good without the coffee too!

Simple in France, I cringe at the corn syrup too, I'm guessing it is to keep the candy a little softer, I figured substituting the honey would do the same thing, and it worked fine.

I know when a product is introduced, there are always lots of recipes to go with them, Jello salads come to mind...or the casseroles made with condensed soups.

Now you can make some for your in-laws without cringing :)

Thistledog, you're welcome - I didn't think it had much of a coffee taste either, although I would be a bad one to ask! :)

Threads of Light said...

I made this recipe this week, everyone loved it! I used rapadura, a coffee substitute powder, and a bit of carob powder thrown in for good measure. Very yum, and you are right - it has to be put away straight away or hands just keep going back for more!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Threads of Light, glad it worked for you - even the hiding part ;)

Good tip on the Rapadura and carob - Thanks!