Spiced Caramel Corn with Peanuts

A warmly spiced caramel corn that's a perfect party favor or sweet snack.

Spiced Caramel Corn with Peanuts

This caramel corn takes inspiration from the warm flavors of chai tea to elevate a snack more typically found at carnavals than dinner parties. But whip up a batch of this caramel corn before guests arrive, and they'll find it irresistible, perhaps finishing it off before you even have the chance to send them home with little paper bags of it. It's also a great choice for movie night, or for a sweet snack that tastes like more than just sugar.

Spices used in this recipe


Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon, Ground
Nutmeg, Ground
Cloves, Ground
Cardamom, Green Ground
Salt, Kosher

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and put an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Put the peanuts in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbs. of the oil and ½ Tbs. of the kosher salt. Spread the peanuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 18-30 minutes, until toasted brown in color, but not burned. Keep an eye on them starting at 15 minutes, and stir occasionally if it seems that they are cooking unevenly. When peanuts are toasted, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  3. Prepare the popcorn: heat the remaining 2 Tbs. neutral oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid oven medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the popcorn kernel and cover. Cook over medium-high heat, shaking constantly, until the popping has subsided to an occasional “pop.” Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Wipe out the remaining oil from the pot using a paper towel.
  4. Pour the toasted peanuts into the bowl of popcorn, keeping the parchment paper or silpat on the rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Now it’s time to make the caramel. Put the sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water, vanilla, and spices into the wiped out pot. Stir in the remaining 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt and heat the pot over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring -- stirring could cause the caramel to crystalize and seize up. If sugar crystals form on the walls of the pot as it boils, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the pot. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook, washing down the sides as needed, swirling occasionally, never stirring, until the sugar mixture is a deep brown caramel color. 
  6. Raise the heat to medium and stir in the popcorn and peanuts, using a silicone spatula. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel darkens a few more shades, to a deep brown, about 5 minutes. Spread the popcorn out into an even layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature.
  7. When popcorn is cool, break it up into chunks in the size you desire and serve. Popcorn is best eaten the same day but will last in an airtight container at room temperature for around three days.

Makes about eight cups. Adapted from Mozza at Home.

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