Caramel Popcorn with Dark Chocolate Drizzles

I have never made caramel popcorn. But I now know it is really easy to do. I put this out last night as a snack while we played games on New Years Eve. It is yummy and  gluten free.
This makes A LOT. So if you don’t need a ton of it, you can do what I did and just halve the recipe. We still had plenty left over. Or if you are having a really large gathering or you want to give this as gifts, go ahead and do the full amount. Either way you will be pleased with the end result.
I found this recipe on About.com after doing a simple google search for caramel popcorn. I altered it a bit because I didn’t want too much chocolate on it. Their recipe has you completely coat the popcorn in caramel and then completely coat that in chocolate. I wanted caramel popcorn with little bits of dark chocolate so I just drizzled. Besides, drizzling is fun. 🙂

Caramel Popcorn with Dark Chocolate  Drizzles

Ingredients:

* 2 bags microwave popcorn (yield: 24 cups popped popcorn)
* 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 8  oz of dark chocolate chips (you can certainly use milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate if you prefer)

Preparation:

1. Line roasting pan or jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Trust me, this is important so that you don’t end up with a huge mess of sticky popcorn stuck to your pans! Pop both bags of microwave popcorn, and empty them into a large roasting pan, or two 9×13 pans. You should have approximately 24 cups of popped corn. Remove as many unpopped kernels as you can. Turn the oven to 250 degrees, and place the popcorn in the oven to keep warm.

2. Place the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar melts, and continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the candy begins to boil.

3. Stir in the condensed milk, and insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the candy reaches 238 degrees. ( I did not have a candy thermometer so I just eyeballed it and it turned out fine. I let it really bubble and thicken for a few min and it turned a nice rich dark caramel color.) Remove it from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

4. Take the popcorn out of the oven and pour the caramel over the popcorn, stirring it so that the pieces are evenly coated.

5. Return the popcorn to the oven, and bake it for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If you use multiple pans and your popcorn is in a single layer, the cooking time will be closer to 25 minutes. It is done when the caramel mixture darkens and bubbles all over the pan.

6. Remove the popcorn from the oven and allow it cool completely at room temperature before breaking it into pieces by hand.

7. Place the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle the melted chocolate all over the popcorn, using a back and forth motion. Put the chocolate-covered corn in the refrigerator to quickly set the chocolate for about 15 minutes.

8. Once set, break up the chocolate caramel popcorn into pieces, and store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

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