Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

Now that football season has started, I find myself craving snack foods more than ever. I watch a lot of sports (probably too many in truth), but often the game is background noise while I’m in the kitchen cooking/baking or doing other chores around the house. It’s not very often I’ll sit on the couch and watch an entire sporting event from start to finish, but I make an exception on Sundays for football. Without fail I try to watch the Patriots game from start to finish, and since I’m involved in a fantasy football league this season, I’ll flip back and forth between several of the other games as well.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

You can’t watch football without snacks, and my snack of choice the first few weeks of the season has been french onion dip. Even though I’m completely obsessed with it right now, eventually I will get bored so I’m trying to branch out and find some other ideas. This peanut butter caramel corn practically jumped off the page at me as I was flipping through this month’s issue of Cooking Light. It sounded like the perfect salty-sweet snack, and though I’ve made caramel corn before (and apparently chose the same dish to photograph it!), I was intrigued by the addition of peanut butter here. I didn’t end up finding the peanut butter very noticeable in the popcorn, I just thought it added depth to the flavor and heightened the salty-sweet combo with the caramel. This is a really easy treat to put together though it does bake for an hour at a low temperature in the oven so you do need to plan ahead. I made a full batch so I’ll definitely be snacking on some come Sunday this week.

PS – many thanks for the kind birthday wishes for Shane yesterday! I did end up picking up a small store-bought chocolate fudge cake last night so we could light candles and sing Happy Birthday :)

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
from Cooking Light, October 2011

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the popping almost completely stops. Remove the pan from the heat and when the popping stops, remove the cover and add the almonds.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the peanut butter and vanilla. Drizzle over the popcorn and use a rubber spatula to toss to coat.

Spread the popcorn on the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.