Monday, March 26, 2012

Bacon & Cashew Caramel Corn

Tired of those old boring snacks that you buy at the store? Love caramel corn? Love cashews?? Love bacon??? BACON??? Why not! The whole "salty-sweet" snack thing is really hot right now and bacon is not just for breakfast anymore!
Bacon is even finding its way onto dessert menus in some of the top restaurants in the country! I even made a delicious Smoky Bacon & Ginger Cookie a while back that was a hit!

This version of the popular caramel corn is tasty, very addictive and so simple to make, you can whip up a batch to enjoy with your favorite movie tonight!!

All you need to make 15 cups (enough for a party even!) are the following ingredients:

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 Tbls. vegetable oil
6 oz bacon, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews (about a 2.5 oz package)
1 teas. coarse salt
1/4 teas. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Oolong Tea Bag (your local Chinese take out place usually sells these!)
Nonstick Cooking Spray
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbls. light corn syrup

Preheat your oven to 300°. Pop popcorn in oil and place in a large bowl, set aside. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet, over medium heat until almost crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain; cool.

Add the bacon and cashews to the bowl of popcorn. Sprinkle with the salt and cayenne pepper; toss to coat.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and tea bag to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep for 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on the tea bag with the back of a spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Coat 2 wooden spoons or heat-resistant rubber spatulas with cooking spray and set aside.

Stir sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; boil, without stirring, until syrup turns a deep amber color, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, about 13 minutes.
Remove from heat and immediately add the cream & tea mixure, BE VERY CARFUL as this mixure will bubble up quickly. Stir until blended, then immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture; toss with the sprayed spoons/spatulas until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until caramel is shiny and coats popcorn, tossing mixture occasionally to break up large clumps.

Cool and enjoy!

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