Caramel Corn with Bacon, Cashews and Cayenne

December 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Appetizers | 50 Comments
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I’ve always wondered which was worse, a conniption fit or a hissie fit. Whichever, I threw it when I saw this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine.

I mean c’mon, take my all-time favorite snack food, add bits of my all time favorite meat, toss in chunks of the most decadent of nuts, sprinkle on some spicy heat, add some caramel for that sweet and salty factor and I’m in full fit.

Let’s begin this post by talking about a kitchen gadget I bought about a year ago.  My friend Vickie in Montana wrote in her blog about buying a Whirly Pop popcorn popper.  Once I laid eyes on this, with 20% off coupon clenched in fist, I couldn’t get to Bed Bath and Beyond fast enough. I love this thing. It turns out beautiful popcorn every time and I think it cost all of $20 dollars. If you love popcorn like I do, I’d suggest getting one. Simple technology with a handle that is connected to a prong thing on the bottom of the pan. It’s always moving the kernels to avoid any old maids.

Going back even further, about two years ago a new restaurant named Colt and Gray opened up in Denver. Everyone raves about it. I’ve never been since it would mean traveling out of my suburban bubble and venturing downtown. Last month, Food and Wine Magazine did an article about the Best Bar Food in America. Colt and Gray was one featured with this popcorn recipe.  Let’s take a look.

Pop 1/2 C. popcorn in 3 T. vegetable oil

In a very large bowl place popcorn, 6 slices of fine chopped cooked bacon, 1/2 c. chopped raw unsalted pecans and 1/4 t. cayenne pepper.  Mix well.

For the caramel sauce, in a saucepan add 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water and 2 T. light corn syrup.  I used dark corn syrup because that’s what I had on hand and it worked fine.  Heat over medium low until sugar dissolves.  Raise heat to bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes until mixture turns amber. Remove from heat and immediately add 1/4 c. of warmed whipping cream.

Spray two wooden spoons with Pam.  Slowly pour caramel mix over your popcorn mixture and start mixing with the spoons until popcorn is coated.  It really helps to have someone else drizzling the caramel sauce…trust me.  🙂

Transfer popcorn to a baking sheet, lined with aluminium foil that’s also been sprayed with Pam.  Spread caramel corn mixture onto pan and in a preheated oven of  300 degrees, bake your popcorn for about 20 minutes or until caramel is shiny.  Let cool and break up clumps.

  • Was it worth the incredible mess?  Yes
  • Was it crazy good? Yes
  • As a snack, did it help ease the horrid Bronco loss?  No
  • Is 1/4 t. cayenne enough heat?  Yes
  • Could we stop eating it?  No

Caramel Corn with Bacon, Cashews and Cayenne…It’s What’s For A Football Snack.



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  1. The popcorn maker brought back some wonderful memories of college for me… one of my roomies had one, and put it to work every Thursday night for study breaks. You’re right, it makes the best popcorn!

    • I’m surprised this popper has been around so long and escaped me.

  2. Oh my gosh Lea Ann, I’m afraid to make this for fear my husband might hurt himself on it. Oh well, maybe this could be a Christmas Day treat. What a great recipe.

  3. My husband has owned one of these popcorn poppers forever. I hate cleaning it. It is his job, like making the popcorn. I am sure this recipe is unbelievably tasty. I will print it for him to make it soon! Thanks, Lea Ann.

    • It’s a great little recipe “find”. Thanks Kirsten.

  4. This is so twisted….in a good way though. I mean, bacon and popcorn? oh yeah!

    • I bet somehow this could all be done on that egg. 🙂

  5. A long time ago I saw that popper in a catalog and wanted one. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw yours. There’s an awful lot of goodness in that bowl of popcorn. I would drive in from the suburbs for a bowl of it too.

    • That popper is wonderful and works great. Thanks Sam

  6. Looks like a super good snack, but when I eat popcorn, I want to eat my fill (same with homemade ice cream), so I’d have to make a couple of gallons – I’d have some leftover for breakfast that way. What is wrong with this picture: Denver high today – 61*, Greenback, Tn high today – 25*

    • I happen to like popcorn for breakfast…shall we try it with an over easy egg on top??? 🙂 Yes, our weather is pretty much backwards. We haven’t had any measurable moisture in Denver since August…yes, we’re watering trees.

  7. Hmmm I feel like a hissy fit is born more out of anger while a conniption fit can be spurred out of happiness/amazement/anything. This caramel corn sounds out of this world good. I can’t even imagine…

    • I agree on the fit analysis Joanne and that caramel corn was out of this world.

  8. YUM!!! I’m having a fit over this recipe, too. I think meat candy would be perfect with sweet caramel and popcorn. I’m in love with that beautiful antique dish in the first shot. Details, woman! Glad you still love your Whirly Pop – thanks for the shout out. Mine is used so often it practically lives on the stove. 🙂

    • That bowl was one of my mom’s and one of my favorites. I love that whirley pop, and like yours, it lives on the stove top. I use it at least once a week.

  9. o.k. Stop. Please tell me right now if you have any more of this popcorn left.

    yer killin’ me

    • None left Dan, we practically licked the bowl. What will really make you mad is that I was going to bring this to your house for an appetizer.

  10. Wow, caramel corn, bacon, cashews, and cayenne all in one dish, it that even legal? Sounds delicious.

    • LOL Dave, probably not in Nebraska.

  11. Holy cow!! This looks like my ideal PMS cure. 😉 What a fantastically naughty combo.

  12. Wow that looks crazy good! Love it!!!

    • We went crazy over it. As always thanks for stopping by Mary.

  13. OMG!! Amazing!! I love popcorn, baconm cashews and cayenne! I must try this!

    • Sounds like a great little dish for you Steph!

  14. Dang, I’m out of corn syrup. Well worth a trip to the store for this one.

  15. OMG. You had me at “bacon!”

    • I had me at bacon too! 🙂

  16. Luv it. Do you know how long this will keep? I’m thinking about making a large batch to share and was curious about the shelf life?

    • I think the recipe said 2 days. But, since it was a mess to make, I was thinking about a double batch and sticking some in the freezer. Do believe that would work.

  17. Alright you get the kitchen-genius-of-the-day award! I’m sure I could devour a whole bowl in no time!

    • Wow, and coming from the usual “kitchen genius of the day”, I proudly accept that award Sommer! 🙂

  18. I’ve never even seen one of those popcorn makers, Lea Ann. Guess I am behind times and really, since the kids left, not making all that much popcorn anymore. But oh my, what a fabulous recipe. Bacon in popcorn? What a brilliant idea!

    • Barbara, I love that popcorn maker. I hadn’t seen one until a year ago. As always thanks for stopping by.

  19. Holy Cannoli that looks amazing! So, it didn’t help to ease the pain of the loss…but it had to have made you temporarily forget it, yeah? LOL! Lovin’ that Whirly Popcorn Maker, too. Want some!!

  20. What a great combination. This wouldn’t last very long at our house 🙂

    • It most certainly didn’t last long at our house Karen. 🙂

  21. Is that a stunning snack or what? Oh my!!! Awesome.

  22. I absolutely love the idea of bacon in popcorns, and the mix of sweet and savory sounds delicious 🙂

    • I agree. Great combination. Thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  23. Bacon is showing up in everything these days, and why not? It makes people happy! I love this one. It looks perfect for our Christmas Eve game night. Happy Holidays!

  24. I love your popcorn maker! I never saw such a contraption before! And this popcorn – positively divine! I can think of nothing I want to eat more right now.

  25. What a thing of beauty. I can’t imagine ever thinking of this myself, but now that it is in my brain, I shall become obsessed! GREG

    • I wish I had thought of it myself…it’s really good Greg. Thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  26. That is my kind of dish. Did you use any special or paticular bacon?

    Is it still football season?

    • Football??? Not sure what that is! 🙂 And yes, I use a good thick cut bacon that I buy at the meat counter at Whole Foods.

  27. Stove top poppers make the lightest, fluffiest popcorn ever! It’s one of my favorite snacks and I have to say that I’ve never imagined adding bacon to a batch of carmel corn. But what the heck, why not! I can see how this would easily turn into a craving.

    Happy Holiday wishes to you and your family, Lea Ann.

  28. We have one of those popcorn makers and we absolutely love it! I’d eyed this recipe in Food and Wine too, and was somewhat skeptical, but I’m definitely going to have to give it a go now too!

  29. Hee Hee Hee my husband says everything tastes better with BACON in it,
    I am gonna give this a try :O)

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