Vanilla Honey Caramel Corn

Monday, March 26, 2012

honey vanilla bean caramel corn

Popcorn is, without a doubt, one of my favorite treats in all the world.  When we get within 100 feet of a movie theater, The Boyfriend has to take me by the arm and drag me in the opposite direction just so we can carry on with whatever it was we were doing before I smelled the popcorn.  If movie theater popcorn is my first love, then caramel popcorn is my secret mistress (clearly I just finished watching MadMen).  I usually go for the salty, buttery crunchy deliciousness of normal popcorn, but when I get that off craving for something sweet, caramel corn is one of the first things I turn to.

This recipe is special, though, because it’s not your typical coated-in-corn-syrup-just-so-you-get-a-sugar-fix caramel popcorn, but instead something much more sophisticated.  The flavors here are complex-honey, vanilla, and just enough burnt sugar to remind you there’s still caramel here.  In a word: phenomenal.  Making popcorn at home is much simpler than most people realize, so I encourage you to give it a shot; turning it into this deliciously coated popcorn is just a few extra steps.  I promise, you’ll think it’s worth it when you’re munching away and are surprised to find it all gone in minutes.

Vanilla Honey Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from Eat the Love’s amazing Wordless Recipe

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (extract will do, as well, but it’s fun to see the beans on the popcorn!)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, add the oil and 3-4 popcorn kernels.  Once those kernels pop, you know the oil is hot enough; dump the 1/3 cup of kernels into the pot and put the lid on the pot.
  3. Immediately pull the pot off the heat, count to 30 seconds, shaking the kernels around in the pot every once in a while, then return the pot to the heat.  The popcorn will begin to pop very shortly-make sure the lid is tilted ever so slightly so that steam can escape but not so much that popcorn flies out!
  4. Once most of the kernels are done popping, turn off the heat and dump the popped popcorn into a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with the salt, and set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, add the honey, vanilla, cream, and butter.  Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 245-250 degrees (the Firm Ball stage if you’re a candy maker).  While it’s heating, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Once it’s reached the right temperature, pour the mixture over the popcorn and toss until the popcorn is evenly coated.
  7. Spread the popcorn over the parchment covered baking sheet in an even layer and put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Take the popcorn out and let the baking sheet cool on a wire cooling rack.  You won’t be able to resist taking a nibble as soon as its out of the oven, and I can warn you now that it will be soft and not appealing at all.  As it cools it will harden into the crunchy deliciousness you expect.
  9. Once it cools, break the popcorn up, if it cooled into clumps, and serve.  Enjoy!

Note: I made this recipe two days ahead of time for a weekend get-away treat and, just my luck, we had a rainstorm and the humidity went through the roof.  I watched sadly as my popcorn got progressively soggier and soggier.  Luckily, all it took was a pop back in the oven for 15 minutes at 300 degrees and it crisped right back up again!


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