In addition to the bourbon – bourbon! – the biggest surprise is how delicious the dried apple slices are as a mix-in for popcorn. Why didn’t I learn about this sooner?
This recipe was Frankensteined from several others, including inspiration from Blue Bonnet Baker
- 16 cups popped plain popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
- 1 cup salted peanuts (not Spanish peanuts)
- 1 cup dried apple chips
- 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- ½ cup maple syrup or you can use corn syrup
- ½ cup Bourbon (3-4 oz)
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pop the popcorn and put it in a large bowl with the peanuts and apple chips – mix well and put to the side.
- Place the brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil without stirring for 3 minutes – temperature should be about 250 degrees.
- Remove from heat, add the bourbon, vanilla and baking soda, and whisk until the caramel is light in color, foamy, and has doubled in volume, about 10 seconds.
- Immediately drizzle over the popcorn, stir with a rubber spatula until thoroughly coated, and spread into an even layer on baking sheets lined with Silpat or parchment paper.
- Bake at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes with a rubber spatula and scraping up any caramel from the bottom of the pan, until a cooled piece of popcorn is very crunchy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour total. (To test for doneness, take a few pieces of popcorn out of the oven and let cool for 30 seconds. If they’re crunchy, then the caramel corn is done.)
- Transfer the caramel corn to a work surface or rimmed baking sheet to cool completely (it will crisp as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or more.