I enjoy baking and cooking. I am not intimidated by different ingredients or techniques. So this past Christmas, I decided to stray from the usual cookie marathons, and make candy as gifts instead. The most popular treat I made this year…Toffee Popcorn!
- 10 cups popped popcorn (12 cups if not using nuts)
- 1 cup pecan halves, toasted (optional)
- 1 cup whole unblanched almonds, toasted (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine popcorn and nuts.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, honey and cream of tartar; stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 300°-310° (hard-crack stage).
Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda until mixture is light and foamy (be careful – when you add the vanilla it will spontaneously boil, so pour it in and step back to avoid the spatter). Immediately pour over popcorn mixture; toss gently using two buttered spatulas or wooden spoons. Spread into two baking pans lined with Silpats or buttered parchment. Press gently to flatten. Cool completely. Break into pieces.
Yield: about 2 quarts.
NOTE: There is a reason that sugar work is referred to as culinary Napalm. Be careful when cooking and working with your toffee. Keep a bowl of cold iced water near by at all times so if you get any of the toffee on you, you can instantly plunge your hand into the water.