Creative Cooking

What's Cooking on Pinterest? Caramel Apple Popcorn

The last 50 things I have pinned on Pinterest have been some sort of fall-themed dishes. I can't resist pinning recipes with pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, spices, caramel or any other fall ingredient.

This week, I came across a caramel apple popcorn recipe that reminded me of my mom's candied popcorn she gives out during Christmastime. I love how that recipe offers a salty popcorn with an über-sweet candy glaze and pecans. It's sweet, salty and so addicting.

Based on my mom's success with her candied popcorn dish, I thought this dish would turn out just the same.

Unfortunately, Molly was not impressed. The popcorn was overly sweet and needed other elements to give it more complexity. Here is the recipe that I found, with some added tips to make it better.

First, the blogger says to preheat the oven to 250 degrees because you will bake the popcorn to make it thicker and crunchier. I decided to preheat my oven to 300 degrees because 250 degrees wasn't doing anything to the popcorn; it needed more heat, for sure.

Next, you can either pop three bags of popcorn or one cup of unpopped corn kernels. Either way, you will want to yield about 14 cups of popcorn. I cut this recipe by 2/3, so I only popped one bag of popcorn; otherwise I would be eating caramel popcorn for a month. Place the popcorn and five ounces of apple chips in a bowl or in the baking dish you will use when you place them in the oven.

Once the popcorn is popped, it is time to make the caramel sauce to go on top of the popcorn and apple chips. This caramel sauce calls for boiling one cup of light brown sugar, one cup of light corn syrup, 1/2 cup of butter and one teaspoon of salt. This combination sounds wonderful, but it needs some spices to balance out the extreme tooth-breaking sweetness. Next time I am going to add cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. That will cater more toward the apple flavors of the popcorn rather than the sweet caramel.

After this mixture begins to boil, add one 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously for five minutes; you want the caramel to thicken up and get super sticky.

Now that your caramel sauce is made, pour it over the popcorn and apples, then toss to combine. When you're pouring, don't dump the entire sauce over the popcorn; stir after you pour a little bit. If the popcorn is completely coated with the sauce, then don't add anymore. You'll give yourself a toothache if you add too much sauce.

I decided to add chopped pecans because my mom's popcorn dish always had pecans and I love getting a chunk of sweet and salty popcorn with a little bit of nuttiness.

Bake the popcorn for 30 to 40 minutes if you're baking it at 300 degrees, and stir every so often to make sure the popcorn doesn't burn on top.

Once the popcorn is done baking, let it cool, then enjoy. I think it won't be as sweet if you don't add too much caramel sauce and if you add a few extra spices to give it an all-around fall taste.

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Molly Dunn
Contact: Molly Dunn