C

Caramel popcorn bars (aka, crack)

This recipe is so simple, but honestly the most addictive thing I’ve made in a while. I can’t leave it alone, and keep circling back to the kitchen for just another crumb, which, before I know it, amounts to half the tray.

The caramel in the recipe sets quite hard, which gives a nice crunch, but it’s harder work on the teeth. If you prefer a softer caramel, add 70g butter instead of the 50g specified in the recipe below.

This makes an 8”x8” square – how many portions that equates to, I’ll leave up to you and your conscience to decide.

Caramel popcorn bars

  • Servings: 8x8 inch square
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 90g popping corn
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted

Directions

  • I make my popcorn in the microwave, because I only recently realised you can. Put it into a large container with a lid loosely covering it, then microwave on full power for between 2 and 4 minutes – basically until the popping stops. It’ll take a minute for the popping to begin, so just stay with it.
  • Make a direct caramel. This is done by putting a heavy pan on a medium/high heat, and adding sugar very gradually, allowing it to melt before adding the next bit – don’t stir it as that increases the risk of it crystallising, just swirl the pan gently to even out any hot spots, and if one area looks like it’s getting dark faster than the rest, dump more of the sugar on top of it, to cool it and slow it down. Keep adding sugar gradually until it’s all in, and then keep it on the heat, swirling gently, until the caramel is a deep golden colour, and just starting to smoke. Remove from the heat, then taking great care as it might spit, whisk in the butter, a little at a time, waiting for each addition to be incorporated before adding the next bit. (If at any point it looks like it might split, then whisk in an ice cube and it should all come back together)
  • Pour the caramel over the popcorn in a heat-proof bowl, and stir it about with a spatula to evenly distribute the caramel – as you can see from the pic, it’s not enough caramel to completely coat the popcorn as I think that would be too sickly, just enough that each piece of popcorn has some on it, and it’ll therefore all stick together. Once you’re satisfied that it’s well distributed, tip the popcorn into an 8”x8” brownie tin lined with baking parchment. Taking care as it will still be hot, press it down so that it fills the whole tin, and the top is level. Don’t delay this step, as the caramel will start setting as it cools and you need to have done this whilst it’s still soft.
  • Once it’s completely cool, drizzle the melted chocolate over the top. If you’re planning to keep this for a while, or want to make it really pretty for serving to guests, then temper the chocolate to keep it looking glossy and shiny once it sets. If you have no intention of it hanging around long enough to admire the sheen of the chocolate, then simply melted will do just fine.
  • Once the chocolate has set, cut it into rustic pieces using a sharp knife – I say rustic because there’s no way this is going into neat squares, sorry.
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