When I first started creating the menu for my husband’s Bacon Party, I knew I wanted both savory and sweet baconated treats. After a scouring the internet for all things bacon, I came across some bacon caramel corn. I was instantly intrigued. Bacon caramel corn was resting on the fine line between fabulous and train wreck. Would it be salty sweet goodness or “why did some put meat in my popcorn?”
The verdict? Not only fabulous, but mind blowing! Here’s the key: the popcorn is double baconed! First the kernels are popped in reserved bacon grease and then the bits of bacon are added to the caramel. As the caramel corn bakes, the caramel and bacon fuse together creating a lovely salty-sweet candied bacon. Just beware, once you starting eating this, you can’t stop!
*To get the fluffiest popcorn, be sure to use a premium pop corn. I used Mushroom Corn.
*Don’t have enough salted butter? Increase the sea salt to ½ teaspoon to make up the difference.
*Be sure to remove any unpopped kernels before adding the caramel (you don’t want them to decide to pop while in the oven!)
Bacon Caramel Corn
Adapted from A Culinary Education
1 pound of bacon, finely chopped
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 oz dark chocolate, melted
In a large stock pot, fry the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, move the bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Reserve 4 tablespoons of grease in the pot. Place 3-4 kernels into the pot with the bacon grease and cover. Turn the heat to medium high.
Once the first kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn and cover. Once the popcorn begins to pop a second time, lightly shake the pot every 5-10 seconds until the popping has stopped.
Pour the popped corn into a large bowl, making sure to remove any unpopped kernels. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large soup pot, heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reaches 275 degrees F.
Quickly remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the bacon bits and the baking soda.
Moving quickly, before the caramel hardens, pour it over the popcorn and stir until covered. Pour the covered popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet, smoothing as much as possible.
Place the popcorn into the oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Remove the caramel corn from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then using your hands, break into small, manageable pieces. Drizzle the dark chocolate over the cooled caramel corn and set place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set. Move the caramel corn to a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.