Yes, what you see is real. There is bacon in this caramel corn.
Bacon in sweets is a pretty common thing these days, but some people still seem to scrunch up their noses at the thought of it. If there were ever a sweet recipe with bacon in it to try, it would be this one! The smokey, salty bacon pairs beautifully with the sweet, crunchy, caramel-y ribbons that lace the popcorn. It’s salty-sweet perfection.
Actually, the bacon isn’t even the most unique ingredient in this recipe—I would say that title belongs to the oolong tea. It seems like a random, unnecessary addition, but the tea gives it woody sweetness that produces a depth of flavor not often associated with caramel corn. Basically what I’m saying is, don’t skip it because it seems odd.
This popcorn makes a perfect accompaniment to cocktails or beer, and is a much more interesting choice that the typical mixed nuts or pretzels.
Also, you may be wondering why my popcorn is so dark. I used Ruby Red kernels in this recipe because they are super crunchy and nutty!
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with nonstick spray; set aside. Coat 2 wooden spins or silicone spatula with nonstick spray and set aside.
Pop popcorn kernels in either a microwave popper (I use this one), or on the stove. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
Cook the bacon in a skillet until almost crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add the bacon and cashews into the bowl with the popcorn. Sprinkle with the salt and cayenne and toss to coat.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream and tea bag to a low boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Press the liquid out of the teabag and discard.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and boil for 12-15 minutes, until the syrup is amber in color. Remove from heat and immediately add cream (don't be alarmed when it bubbles up!). Stir until blended. If the caramel hardens, simply stir it over low heat until it has melted again.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture, and toss to coat with the coated spoons. Transfer to the lined baking sheet.
Bake the caramel corn for about 15-20 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the caramel coats the popcorn mixture. Allow to fully cool on baking sheet.
I hope you guys enjoyed my week of popcorn! The other recipes can be found below (click on the photo for recipe). I’ve also shared the Vanilla-Curry Caramel Corn I posted on Facebook, in case you missed it!: