This is what happens when you buy bacon in bulk. Freshly popped corn is tossed with marcona almonds, crispy bacon, smoked sea salt and cayenne pepper, then drowned in a rich, deeply-hued caramel. Bacon Caramel Corn is both super tasty and super addicting with the most satisfying crunch. To be honest, I’m usually not the biggest fan of caramel corn. I often find that it is too cloyingly sweet. Luckily, this version of caramel corn isn’t too sweet. It’s quite savory actually with just a hint of sweetness.
Bacon Caramel Corn can be made up to two days in advance. Be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you’ve never made caramel before, I’d recommend doing a practice run. This caramel is simply a mixture of sugar, water and corn syrup, so if you mess it up, throw out the batch and try again! Continue reading for the recipe.
Bacon Caramel Corn
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 9 ounces bacon, chopped and cooked until almost crisp
- 1/2 cup unsalted marcona almonds (regular almonds would work here as well)
- 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt or a coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 300°F. Add popcorn and oil to a large pot over medium-high heat, cover and cook until kernels begin to pop. Carefully shake the pot until you no longer hear the kernels popping. Transfer popcorn to very large bowl. Add bacon, almonds, smoked sea salt and cayenne pepper to bowl with popcorn, tossing to coat.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat 2 wooden spoons or sturdy spatulas with nonstick spray and set aside. To a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add sugar, water and corn syrup, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling, clamp on a lid and let cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Do not stir! After 3 minutes, lift the lid to check the shape of the bubbles. If the bubbles are much bigger and closer together, you can continue cooking without the lid. If the bubbles are still small and boiling vigorously, put the lid back on and cook for a minute or two longer. Continue to cook the caramel until it reaches a deep amber, gently swirling the mixture occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove from the heat and immediately add the cream. Stand back a bit because the mixture will bubble up! Stir until well blended.
Immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture, tossing with the sprayed spoons until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cook the caramel corn in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing mixture occasionally. Cool completely on the baking sheet, tossing occasionally to break up large clumps.
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