Caramel Corn with Toasted Almonds
It’s a big weekend! Halloween! The ASTROS! We are going to need some snacks.
How about Caramel Corn with Toasted Almonds? It’s an all-time favorite, a forever crowd pleaser that is just as good eaten while trick-or-treating is happening or while we are chanting “Let’s go Astros!” into our tvs. There is no child or grown-up who will pass up a little sweet-and-salty caramel corn.
This recipe for Caramel Corn with Toasted Almonds is inspired by one published years ago by Epicurious as part of a tree-trimming party menu created by Chicago chef Graham Elliot, of restaurants Graham Elliot and Grahamwich. Elliot’s calls for smoked Marcona almonds, but we had regular toasted almonds in the house, and we happen to like those. But you make the choice: Marcona almonds, toasted almonds, pecans, cashews – whatever you like. Maybe you want to add peanuts to make your own homemade Cracker Jack?
However you make it, be sure to work fast on caramel corn. The caramel will turn amber-colored in about 10 minutes, at which point you need to be on it, because it can go from pretty amber caramel to burned brown goop in seconds. So as soon as it’s caramelly-amber, take the pot off the heat, stir in the butter and baking soda, and pour it over the popcorn and almonds. Then pour all of that, folded together, into a single layer on the baking sheet. It will get hard fast. Once it does crisp up, you will need to shoo people away if you want to save any caramel corn for the big events. But it’s so easy, there’s nothing stopping you from making another batch.
Happy Halloween and Go Astros!
Caramel Corn with Toasted Almonds
6 cups popped popcorn
1 cup toasted almonds
½ cup light corn syrup
2 ¾ cups sugar
½ tablespoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Sprinkle of flaky salt
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray generously with nonstick spray. Generously spray a large bowl and all but the handle part of a large spoon or rubber spatula. Put the popcorn and almonds into the bowl.
In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, combine the corn syrup, sugar, and 1/4 cup water and stir to combine. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture develops a light amber color, about 10 minutes. Quickly remove the pot from the heat, add the baking soda and butter, and stir continuously to melt the butter and combine the ingredients, about 20 seconds. (The mixture will be very hot and will foam up at this point - continuous stirring will help the foaming subside.)
Working quickly, pour the caramel into the bowl, over the popcorn and almonds, then use the sprayed spoon or rubber spatula to fold everything together, trying to evenly coat the popcorn and nuts in caramel. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading out the caramel corn as much as possible. Sprinkle with salt and let cool and harden for about 20 minutes. Break the caramel corn into smaller, bite-size pieces and serve.
DO AHEAD: Caramel corn can be prepared in advance and stored, in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.
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