Fancy Schmancy Caramel Nutty Pretzel Popcorn

For my sister’s wine and cheese party last year I wanted to make three desserts that matched her theme. Well, I ended up with three, but this one didn’t match the theme. There was no wine or cheese involved in the making of this dessert. However, the combination of salty and sweet in a handheld crunchy form is always a party winner. This photo is from my sister’s blog (photo hungry!) about food (runs in the family) from her party.

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Where did I find this awesome and easy to make recipe? From Cooking Classy.

Here’s the delicious recipe.

Caramel Nutty Pretzel Popcorn

Adapted from Cooking Classy

Yield:  two gallon-sized Ziploc bags

Ingredients:

 For the Caramel

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Other Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup un-popped popcorn kernels (or 4 bags 100 calorie pack popcorn)
  • 2 ½ cup mini pretzels, broken into popcorn-sized pieces
  • 1 cup lightly salted peanuts
  • ½ cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • Kosher salt for taste

Directions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with wax paper or parchment paper. Pop popcorn kernels in a microwave or popocorn popper and place in a large bowl (be sure to not dump in the un-popped kernels). Add in crushed pretzels and peanuts and gently mix mixture together.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave for about 2 minutes and stir. Immediately return to microwave and microwave 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove bowl from microwave and add in vanilla extract and stir. Then add in baking soda. The mixture will begin to froth. Continue stirring until very frothy.
  4. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn mixture and gently stir until evenly coated. Caramel mixture will still be hot so be careful! Dump mixture onto the baking sheets and spread out evenly.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in short intervals (about 30 seconds) until melted and smooth, being sure to stir in between intervals. Pour melted chocolate into a piping bag, plastic candy bottle (like a ketchup bottle), or ziploc bag, and drizzle over the popcorn. Repeat this with the white chocolate.
  6. Place chocolate covered popcorn in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens and sets (about 30 or so minutes). Remove and break up into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Store in airtight container.

I didn’t have unpopped kernels in a jar, so I used my 100 calorie pack Orville Redenbacher popcorn and it worked great! I used four packs – given that half of the first pack burned in the microwave, so really I used 3.5 packs.

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The original recipe called for salted butter, but I like to control the salt going into my desserts, so I used unsalted. Then I broke up pieces of the pretzel with my hands and dumped the peanuts on top. Yum, look at those ingredients…

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The best part was how easy this caramel was to make. You just put everything in a bowl. Tip for corn syrup – lightly spray your measuring cup first with Pam or spray oil before pouring in the corn syrup. This will help keep it from sticking.

DSC_0016_webStick it in the microwave.

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Watch as it melts into delicious gooey caramelness (not a word, but should be right?). Then you add the baking soda and it froths. Pretty awesome, brings me back to good old elementary school when we reacted vinegar and baking soda and realized its magical sodium bicarbonate properties.

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I think the frothing helps evenly coat the popcorn because it makes the caramel less dense and easily spreadable.

DSC_0020_webSee?

Evenly coat the popcorn with caramel. I used two salad spoons and kept lifting some popcorn and dropping it back in to coat. Then spread it on your baking sheets.

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Melt that chocolate. And drizzle.

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Refrigerate. I stored mine in gallon ziploc bags.

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I let the dropping of the pieces take care of breaking my popcorn into bite-sized chunks. Plus we were travelling with these so I figured it would break up more.

These were the only dessert that were completely eaten up. (We refilled the bowl several times and brought the second ziploc bag to karaoke)

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8 thoughts on “Fancy Schmancy Caramel Nutty Pretzel Popcorn

  1. Great photos! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I love that you did step by step pictures. I wish I had the patience to do those more often =). Thanks for the pingback!

  2. Beautiful photos! I love this recipe. This is almost like a Moose Tracks and I love it. This is a great gift idea too! Looks delicious 🙂

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