Living in Germany, sometimes I miss Halloween. Not so much the trick-or-treaters that would interrupt our annual Shaun of the Dead viewing every five minutes, or even all the amazing seasonal decor that some people would adorn their house with. No, just like for those sugar-crazed kids, it's all about the candy. Every year, I would buy all of my favorites in preparation for the onslaught of kids, with each doorbell ring hoping this was the last bunch, so that I could greedily keep the rest of the stash in one of my drawers at work, dipping into it whenever I felt stressed or was just in need of a sugar rush. Oh yeah, perfectly healthy behavior.
Now that I'm a grown up who knows better than to gorge myself on countless mini candy bars, not to mention living in the land of no Halloween, and therefore no bags of Halloween candy (what's the fun in a regular size candy bar for Halloween?), I am looking for another way to get my sweet fix - and this caramel corn is it. Perfectly sweet and salty, with a little adult-inspired bourbon flavor, it is the fast track to caramel and just as delicious as the real deal. That said, I will admit the corn syrup element doesn't thrill me, but seeing as my pilgrimage to successful caramel making has been rocky at best, I don't mind indulging in this quick, cheater's version every once in awhile.
So you can keep your tiny packets of Almond Joys, Bottle Caps and Sweet Tarts (mmm, Sweet Tarts...). This Halloween it will just be us, a bowl of this stuff and an uninterrupted showing of my favorite zombie-fighting hero. Have a happy Halloween!
Salted Caramel Bourbon Corn with Peanuts
10 cups cooked popcorn
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp bourbon
1/2 tsp sea salt, separated
Heat oven to 300°F/145°C. Butter baking paper liner or rimmed cookie sheet directly. Pop popcorn in an air popper or on stove and transfer to a large bowl, tossing with the peanuts. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and lightens in color (3-5 minutes). Stir in vanilla, bourbon and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour over cooked popcorn and peanuts and with a rubber spatula, toss to coat. Spread popcorn mixture on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle remaining salt over. Bake, tossing once, until deep amber (30-35 minutes). Remove from oven, toss and let cool on the baking sheet (popcorn will crisp as it cools). Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Adapted from this Real Simple recipe