Sriracha Caramel Corn
This past Saturday, my roommate and I drove down to visit my little brother at UPenn. We arrived to find that Elliot had food poisoning and was unable to actually hang out with us, so instead of keg-standing at frat parties as planned, Logan took me on an extensive tour of his hometown, which included “necessary” stops for pretzels, party dogs, and multiple cheesesteaks.
I’m sure we’ll discuss the aforementioned events in Dude Diet detail at some point, but today I’d like to talk about road trips and popcorn. Indulge me.
I really dig road trips. (I’m obviously referring to road trips with people I like, as the alternative is truly horrible.) I get to spend some QT with my friends/family/roommate, and there’s usually decent music and snacks involved, all of which I enjoy. Plus, thanks to my epic incompetence behind the wheel, I’ve pretty much secured a lifelong passenger pass, meaning that I can comfortably recline during heart-to-hearts-with my driver. (I also misplaced my license months ago, and I keep “forgetting” to get a new one.) Road trips are the best.
While I love me a road trip, I recently realized something quite upsetting…
I am a terrible road trip companion.
In addition to the whole lack of driving thing, I’m a pathetic navigator. Yes, I have Google Maps, but on the off-chance that there are service interruptions/when my phone inevitably dies, the driver is shit out of luck. And despite my best efforts to be sparkling company, I tend to sleep a lot (like infants, I find car vibrations soothing), demand bathroom stops on the reg, and do a lot of what Logan likes to call “whisper singing.” SORRY.
To be honest, I feel quite guilty about the aforementioned behavior (especially the whisper singing…I’m tone deaf), and I’ve been trying to be a better passenger of late. Since I can’t really control my bladder or vehicular insomnia, I’ve decided I shall be the girl with the homemade snacks. That seems manageable.
Game officially upped.
This popcorn is no joke, people. At first you get mostly caramel on your taste buds, but then you’re hit with a fiery Sriracha finish, and the resulting sweet and spicy flavor party is nothing short of glorious. And addictive. Just a heads up, it is scarily easy to crush a batch of this stuff in one sitting. (The Sriracha will most likely give you heartburn halfway through, but it’s still doable.)
If you’ve never made caramel popcorn before, be not afraid! All you have to do is boil sugar and water for about 10 minutes before stirring in a healthy dose of Sriracha, soy sauce, a little butter and some baking soda. Then you just pour the caramel over freshly popped corn, spread the whole mess on a baking sheet, and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes. Once cooled, break the popcorn up with your hands, and you’ve got a magically delicious treat without any scary artificial ingredients. Hallelujah.
Now that this Sriracha Caramel Corn exists, I’ll most likely travel with it, eat it on the couch (/in bed when my roommate’s out of town), and serve it at all laid-back gatherings and weird football parties for the foreseeable future. Please consider doing the same.
Full disclosure: I made this popcorn specifically for Saturday’s adventure, and then I forgot to bring it in the car. It’s the thought that counts…
Sriracha Caramel Corn: (Makes about 8 cups)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (Yes, you can use olive oil or whatever oil you have on hand.)
½ cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon baking soda
Preparing your Sriracha Caramel Corn:
-Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
-Let’s start by popping that corn. Add the oil and three popcorn kernels to a large pot over medium heat. Cover with a lid. When you hear the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Replace the lid and give the pot a few shakes. (Make sure you hold the lid down, peeps.) Cook the popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately pour the popcorn out into the largest bowl you have.
-Moving on to the caramel sauce! Place the soy sauce, Sriracha and butter in a small bowl. You want to have these prepared and handy when you start the caramel, capiche?
-Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes, swirling the pan periodically, until the caramel turns a deep amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soy/Sriracha/butter. The mixture will splutter a little, so watch yourself. Return the caramel to a boil and cook for 3 more minutes.
-Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda.
-Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir quickly and vigorously with a spatula to make sure all of the kernels get some of the goodness. (FYI: Spraying your spatula with cooking spray beforehand makes this mixing process significantly easier.)
-Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheet.
-Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time. (The caramel will dry out and darken slightly.)
-Let cool to room temperature, and then break up any clumps with your hands. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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