Caramel corn and Halloween go hand in hand, and in search for the perfect treat I stumbled upon this incredible recipe that needless to say was an absolute winner. It is irresistible…you can hardly control yourself from grabbing more handfuls of this delicious caramel corn until you feel you’re in a complete sugar coma. What makes this so much better is the contrast of salty and sweet, roasted pecans, and the light whiskey notes. I shared with my friends and family, and plan to make mason jars of the stuff for the holidays. Happy Halloween!
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ¾ teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon is a good one)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons Irish whiskey (Jameson is what we used)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions for Stovetop Popcorn
How to Make Stovetop Popcorn
- Use a good, heavy-bottomed pot. Cheap pots don’t distribute heat evenly, and you can end up with hot spots that burn the popcorn.
- Don’t crank the heat up too high. It’s too easy to burn oil at temperature higher than medium heat, and if you catch even a whiff of smoke coming from the pot, your popcorn is going to taste burnt.
- Add the vegetable oil to the pot. Start with two popcorn kernels to gauge the temperature.Once those pop, your oil is hot enough. Add the remaining kernels and remove the pot from the heat for 1 minute. This primes the popcorn to pop without burning the oil.
- Tip the lid ever-so-slightly while the popcorn is popping.That way, the popcorn doesn’t steam itself in the pot and lose crispness.
- If the popcorn starts overflowing the pot: Simply remove the lid and tip the excess popcorn into a bowl. Return the lid and return the popcorn to the heat until popping slows.
Instructions for the Caramel Corn
- Dump popped corn into a large, heat-resistant bowl, add the pecans, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat.
- Add to it the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt and stir until it starts to boil.
- Boil for 4-5 minutes without stirring. If the caramel isn’t dark enough after the time has elapsed, you can cook it longer, but watch it carefully; it will go from perfect to burned in no time if you’re not paying attention.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, whiskey, and baking soda. It will bubble up, so be careful not to get burned.
- Stir until smooth, then quickly pour over the popcorn and pecans.
- Toss the popcorn and pecans to coat evenly, then spread half in an even layer in one prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other.
- Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until it has reached desired dryness. Every 15 minutes, rotate pans and toss the popcorn a bit, breaking up any big pieces.
- Store in air-tight containers for up to 3 days.