Sweet and crunchy caramel corn is made even better with salty, crunchy pieces of bacon.
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 pieces bacon, cooked crispy and chopped (reserve bacon fat)
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 oolong tea bag
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat the popcorn and oil in a covered, heavy, large pot over medium-high heat until kernels begin to pop. Lift pot just barely off of the element and shake until the popping stops. Pour the popcorn onto a large baking sheet..
- Sprinkle the salt and cayenne over the popcorn and toss to coat. Sprinkle the bacon and peanuts on top of popcorn.
- Bring the cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let it steep for 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of a spoon to release the flavour. Discard tea bag.
- Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and maple syrup in large, high-sided saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and boil without stirring until the syrup turns deep amber in colour, about 13 minutes. Remove the caramel from heat and immediately add cream (mixture will bubble up, be careful.) Stir until blended. Immediately drizzle the caramel over the popcorn and toss to coat with wooden spoons.
- Place the caramel popcorn in the oven and bake until the caramel is shiny and coats the popcorn, tossing occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Using wooden spoons toss the popcorn and break up any large chunks. Let it cool for another 5 minutes and then toss again. Continue this until caramel popcorn is completely cool.
Popcorn can be made two days ahead and kept in the fridge.