Somewhere I have read that there is a flavor combination that humans are helpless to resist. It’s wired into our DNA.
The holy trinity of gluttony. And this recipe has them all. In fact, that’s all it is.
This may be one of my most favorite things I have ever made. Crunchy, sweet caramel corn. And then you’re eating it and you hit this delicious, chewy piece of salty, smoky, sweet bacon, mingling with the sweet caramel, and it is heaven, right in your mouth. I tried my best to write this entry without comparing this stuff to crack, because I think it’s over-used in food blogging and tends to lose its meaning, like a word you repeat over and over until it sounds like nonsense.
But, if the shoe fits, it fits. It’s addictive. Like a certain substance that starts with a C. Once you start eating it, you won’t be able to stop.
You will be the Winner of Everything if you bring this to your next rowdy sports gathering. Because that’s how this snack demands to be eaten. This isn’t food for a bridal shower or high tea. It’s down-and-dirty, football playoffs in the dead of winter, eat in front of the TV, man food.
I flirted briefly with the idea of substituting pure maple syrup for the corn syrup, but a google search told me that was a bad idea. It’s science, y’all. Something about invert sugars. Maple syrup doesn’t perform like corn syrup in candy recipes, and that’s what this is. So just resist any twinges you might feel about using the dreaded HFCS. You’ll forget all about that once you taste it. And really it is only 1/2 cup for a recipe that makes a hell of a lot, so it’s not that much per person.
Not that I’m claiming this is a healthy recipe. It’s not. This is the kind of thing you eat once a year and then hate yourself for afterwards. But only for a minute, because that’s when you want more. It’s that kind of good.
- 6 quarts plain popped popcorn (this is about ¾ cup of raw kernels)
- 8 slices maple-flavored bacon
- 1 cup lightly salted butter
- 2 cups brown sugar (light or dark - dark will give you a deeper molasses flavor)
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 1 tsp butter flavoring
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 200 F.
- Pop popcorn with your method of choice. I use an air popper. Remove old maids and set aside in large bowl.
- Chop raw bacon into very small pieces, and then fry on the stovetop until they are dark brown and crispy. Pour onto a paper-towel covered plate and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Melt gently on low heat until butter is melted, then add cooked bacon pieces.
- Continue cooking on low and bring to gentle boil. Once the mixture begins boiling, set a timer for 5 minutes. My candy thermometer registers about 250 degrees after 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Add butter flavor, salt, and baking soda. Stir well.
- Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir well. Move quickly, as the mixture will begin firming up as it cools.
- Spread mixture on large sheet pan (I use a ½ sheet pan) and bake for about 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, remove mixture from the oven and stir gently to ensure even cooking.
- After 1 hour, remove from oven and cool. Eat it right now.