Recipe: Smoky Candied Popcorn

Recipe: Smoky Candied Popcorn

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Maggie Battista
Dec 10, 2015
(Image credit: Heidi Murphy)

This sweet and savory popcorn is coated with an amber-hued caramel touched with a little chili powder. It’s not spicy or sweet; it has an irresistible just-right balance.

You may be tempted to toss in some peanuts or almonds. I say, go with that feeling.

Smoky Candied Popcorn

Makes about 8 cups

8 cups popped popcorn
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup or light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Line a large (18x13-inch) baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pan liner. Place the popcorn in a large metal bowl. Add the chili powder, baking soda, and salt to a separate tiny bowl and set aside.

In a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, golden syrup, and butter. Cook 10 minutes, occasionally swirling or stirring with a rubber spatula, until it all melts into an amber-hued caramel and pulls away a bit from the side of the pan. This mixture will be super hot, so please don’t get any of it on your skin; it will burn. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the chili powder, baking soda, and salt — the mixture will bubble up, so be careful.

Quickly pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a rubber spatula to evenly coat all the popcorn kernels. Once coated, carefully spread the popcorn onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, separating the pieces.

Let cool 15 minutes if serving immediately or 2 to 3 hours to cool completely before wrapping and gifting. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Gift Wrap Option

Resealable food-grade cellophane bags
Washi tape
Pinking shears

Fill plastic bags with the popcorn and seal. Cut a small piece of tape, and crimp each edge with pinking shears. Apply the tape to the edge of the bag and fold over to the other side.

Text excerpted from Food Gift Love, © 2015 by Maggie Battista. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

(Image credit: Heidi Murphy)

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Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista

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