12 Days of Christmas: Gourmet Caramel Popcorn
For the 12 days leading up to Christmas, Patch brings you a new holiday treat recipe and ideas for gift giving.
Harry & David Moose Munch (a gourmet caramel popcorn with nuts and chocolate) was a favorite but rare treat of mine growing up. Each year, I'd get a Moose Munch bar from a family friend for Christmas, which I would try to ration but inevitably end up gobbling down. The combination of flavors—sweet caramel, salty popcorn and nuts, creamy chocolate—always reminds me of the holidays.
This homemade version is an easy-to-make treat that's sure to impress gift recipients (or taste testers). For small servings, portion into treat bags and tie with a ribbon. For larger portions, pack the caramel corn into a cookie or popcorn tin.
This recipe makes a lot of caramel corn (about 24 cups), but the recipe is easy to halve or quarter.
Gourmet Caramel Popcorn (Homemade Moose Munch) (adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles)
5 to 6 quarts popped corn (20 to 24 cups), from 1 cup unpopped corn
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups mixed nuts (I used peanuts and almonds, but cashews would be great too)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a combination of dark and semi-sweet), melted
Preheat oven to 250°. Spread freshly popped corn in two large, shallow sheet pans. Put in the oven to keep warm and crisp.
Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in large saucepan. Place on medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue to boil to the firm ball stage (248°), or about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Syrup will foam.
Take popped corn from oven and pour hot caramel mixture over it, in a fine stream. Add in nuts, and stir to mix well. Return to oven for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring and scraping up caramel from pan bottom every 15 minutes. Cool the popcorn (I just stuck it outside for a few minutes!). Melt chocolate and drizzle over caramel corn and nuts (use less chocolate if desired). Let cool completely, then serve or store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Check back tomorrow for a sweet and spicy mixed nuts recipe.