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Monday
Oct172011

Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle

Microwave Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle

You could call this “Caramel Corn, Part II.” I’ve posted my all time favorite caramel corn recipe already. As I said in that post, I’ve tried so many recipes over the years, but they were never just right. Always too sticky, too messy, too complicated…you name it. This one is simple and delicious. I thought I couldn’t make it any better. But I did! Which may or may not be a good thing, because damn, it’s addictive! I added mini pretzels, peanuts--and if that wasn’t enough, an over the top chocolate drizzle, that’s sprinkled with salt.

Oh. My. It’s funny--when you try it all together, it’s like a sweet and salty chocolate chip cookie! The chocolate, butter and brown sugar mingle on your tongue and you’ll just want more and more. And more! Which is why I sent most of it to the office with my husband this morning, and I just got word that it’s a big hit.

Microwave Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle

So, yeah. This is a microwave recipe. There’s no standing over the stove or wondering if your caramel is at the correct stage, and no baking. It’s so simple! But here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

  • Use a glass bowl--not plastic. I finally got a bigger microwave and thought I could switch to a larger plastic bowl, as opposed to the 2 QT. Pyrex glass bowl that I’ve always used. No. No, no, and no. I burned my first batch the other day, and as a result, the bowl melted on the bottom. Oops! What a mess. So stick with glass, and have potholders close at hand in case the bowl is getting hot. If you’ve got a 3 QT. glass bowl and it fits in your microwave, even better!
  • In my old, small microwave, in the “cook for 4-6 minutes” step, I needed the 2 minute intervals to get the caramel to get darker. In my new larger one, it only takes a few minutes, stirring every minute, and maybe every 30 seconds toward the end to avoid burning. And I’ll be damned, but I cannot see how many watts our new oven is, no matter where I look! So play it by ear, erring on the side of shorter cooking/stirring intervals. Because it stinks to have to toss out an entire batch of caramel corn!
  • When you add the popcorn into the caramel and start to stir it in, you may be thinking “Oh that Elle! What the hell did I get myself into?” But LISTEN. Add half the popcorn, stir, then add the rest. A few kernels may jump out of the bowl, but pop them back in. And keep stirring, because as the kernels get coated, it gets easier and easier to stir. Trust me.
  • After you pop the popcorn, please be careful to remove the unpopped kernels. You definitely don’t want friends coming to you with a dental bill because they broke a tooth on your caramel corn.
  • Speaking of popcorn, you can use microwave popcorn, or like we do, get out your Whirley Pop and pop your own! It takes just a few minutes longer, but it tastes so much better and fresher than chemically processed popcorn. I find that lightly spraying the popped corn with this canola oil, then sprinkling with salt makes it perfect! I don’t even miss the butter. I’m serious!

Whirley Pop

When all is said and done, this is a fast, easy recipe. Once you get it on the baking sheet, it cools in about 10 minutes and you can start pigging out. So you know what that means? This isn’t only good for planning ahead to serve, but it’s fantastic for a last minute snack attack! Oink!

  • Game snacks!
  • “At home” movie night with the family.
  • Kid’s sleepovers.
  • Holiday gifts.
  • Office party snacks.
  • Anytime!

Microwave Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle

Microwave Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle

Makes about 4 quarts

For the caramel corn:

2 quarts plain, salted popped popcorn or 1 (3.5 ounces) bag microwave popcorn
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup, or Lyle's Golden Syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

For the caramel pretzels and peanuts:

4 cups mini pretzel twists
2 cups lightly salted peanuts
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup, or Lyle's Golden Syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

Chocolate drizzle:

One 11 oz bag of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, or your favorite
your favorite salt (I used Kosher)

Prepare popcorn as directed, either in your own popper or in the microwave. Remove any unpopped kernels. (This step is really important, because a broken tooth is not a good gift.)

In a 2 quart microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter on high until melted, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in sugar and corn syrup, and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well blended.
Stir in popcorn, mixing well. (It may be a bit tricky to mix the popcorn in at first, but the more you stir, the easier it gets. I like to add half, stir it to coat, than add the rest.)

Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring every 1-2 minutes to coat popcorn evenly. Watch it carefully--if you have a very powerful microwave, watch closely so it doesn't start to burn, and you may can reduce the intervals to 30-45 seconds. Transfer caramel corn to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool.

For the caramel pretzels and peanuts, repeat the same steps as above, but without the popcorn. When it's done in the microwave, transfer to another parchment lined baking sheet.

When cool, break up the caramel corn and the caramel pretzels and peanuts, and mix them all up in a large bowl. Spread it all back out on the two parchment lined sheets, and melt the chocolate:

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt 3/4 of the chocolate chips, stirring after one minute, and microwaving again for 30 seconds to one minute at a time, stirring after each time. When it's completely melted, add the remaining chocolate chips to the melted chocolate, and stir constantly until all the chips are melted. Transfer the melted chocolate to a squirt bottle (or a small zip top bag , then cut off a small tip.) I've found that drizzling chocolate is the easiest when you use a squirt bottle--and they're dirt cheap! I picked mine up for 99 cents, so stock up on a few!

Drizzle both pans with chocolate, and immediately, before the chocolate completely dries, sprinkle with salt. Let it all dry completely, and store in an airtight container.

Microwave Caramel Corn with Pretzels, Peanuts and Chocolate Drizzle



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Reader Comments (11)

Oh my heaven, I would not be able to keep my hands off of this!

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather @ Heather's Dish

Sweet & salty is my downfall & this is too easy to make!

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkat

If I were to make this (and I probably will someday), I will have to give it away immediately, or I would eat the entire batch myself. Looks so yummy!

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Elle, I've made your microwave caramel corn before and that's addictive enough. I can only imagine this one! It sounds perfect for a Halloween treat, but I may not be able to share. Thanks for taking it to the next level!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren@Mignardise

Elle... you're seriously KILLING me! That looks fantastic!!!
Definately going into the Christmas goodies rotation! The Boys will LOVE it... ~ thanks!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen B.

I love you. This is beautiful. That is all. (haha)

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril was in CT now CA

Just saw this on tasteologie...looks awesome!

I pinned it to my Popcorn Board!

You're kind of an Evil Genius. Has anyone ever told you that? :)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

Helle yeah! What a great combination of ingredients for caramel corn. And we're together with the Whirley Pop...my daughter wanted one for Christmas and I used it once. Then I bought my own. Makes the best popcorn doesn't it?

This looks wonderful, but I don't own a microwave :( Soft-ball stage if I cook the caramel on the stove-top? Then 250 for three 15-minute intervals, stirring in between each?) thx!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDana B

Dana, honestly, I'm not sure. Caramel is something that continues to be a thorn in my side. a small thorn, but it's there all the same. If that works, please let me know!

November 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterElle

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