Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bacon + Caramel Corn = Happy People

Last year during a foodie-friend soup night, my friend Rachel brought bacon bourbon caramel corn as an appetizer/dessert. As you can imagine, the dish was a hit! If you attended last May's Cookies for Kids' Cancer, you might have snagged a bag of this deliciousness for yourself.

When trying to think of something unique yet crowd-pleasing for my office's Friday treat club, I quickly thought of doing the bacon bourbon caramel corn. I know my colleagues would enjoy the treat. I decided to do one batch of the full-on bacon and bourbon and the other batch of a regular-old caramel. 

Luckily, Rachel had blogged about making the caramel corn, so all I had to do was follow along with her instructions.

For the "regular" batch, I followed the recipe exactly (by the way, five quarts of popped popcorn is 20 cups), except that I just omitted the bacon and the bourbon. This batch was fantastic, and I could eat lots and lots ... and lots and lots of it in just one sitting. The caramel flavor is great and the popcorn stayed crisp and wonderfully buttery. 

For the other batch, I followed Rachel's recipe to a T. While this batch was good, too -- and got rave reviews at work -- the bourbon smell was very pronounced and I think there might have been just a bit too much in that batch. The popcorn also seemed to shrink a bit. But, like I said, it was still good and the bowl was just about empty by the end of the day. The sweet-salt taste is fantastic.

One thing that worked well for me (probably because I can get a little messy in the kitchen) was to divide the popped popcorn  into two big bowls, pour the caramel sauce on top and mix that way, rather than in the jelly roll pan. I tried it this way the first time, and it was a little too messy.

Even if the bacon and bourbon portion of the recipe weirds you out, try making the regular caramel corn. You'll be glad you did -- and you'll be especially glad when there is a little extra caramel left on the spatula you've been using. Yum!


  1. I actually doubled the bourbon from the original recipe, as I really love the boozey flavor to come through... but it did make the caramel a little 'thinner' (hence the popcorn shrinkage).
    Either way, glad it was a hit! :-)

  2. We'll definitely have to try this recipe.

    As Rachel indicated above, the popcorn shrinkage was caused by the 'thinner' caramel which contained too much water. You would have maintained the additional boozy flavor even if you had boiled the caramel longer and reduced its moisture content.

    Also, next time try using Mushroom Popcorn kernels which pop into a much hardier ball shape that can stand up to the caramelizing process much better. You'll end up with nicely separated caramel corn instead of clumps and broken bits.