Getting ready for a weekend of watching college hoops and rooting for your favorite team? This quick and easy recipe, adapted from the Colt & Gray restaurant’s recipe featured in Bon Appétit magazine, is for you. Popcorn is the perfect snack while watching TV, and adding bacon, cashews and a tea-infused caramel sauce only makes it better. Starting with already cooked popcorn makes this recipe a snap to prepare.
6 ounces bacon, chopped
15 cups prepared popcorn
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 oolong tea bag
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray
Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; cool.
In a large mixing bowl, using your hands toss together the cooked bacon, popcorn and cashews. Sprinkle with coarse salt and cayenne; toss again to coat.
Bring cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.
Coat 2 wooden spoons or heat-resistant spatulas with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large saucepan, stir sugar, 1/4 cup water and corn syrup over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add cream/tea (mixture will bubble up). Stir until blended. Immediately drizzle sauce over popcorn mixture; toss with sprayed spoons until evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Place caramel corn in oven and bake, tossing mixture occasionally, about 15 minutes or until popcorn is well coated. Cool completely on baking sheet on a rack, occasionally breaking it up into clumps with your hands.
Makes 15 cups.
Make ahead: popcorn can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store airtight in the refrigerator.
[Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine]