Peanut Butter Caramel Corn with Milk Chocolate + Bacon

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn with Chocolate + Bacon
Recipe by Lexi Castagna
Yield: about 16 cups of popcorn

Ingredients
½ cup popcorn kernels
⅔ cup brown sugar
⅔ cup corn syrup
3 T salted butter
½ tsp salt
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1½ tsp vanilla
¾ cup roasted peanuts (we used unsalted, but you do you!)
8 oz applewood bacon, baked/fried + chopped into bits (optional)
4 oz TCHO 39% Classic Milk Chocolate
1½ tsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250oF.  Prep a baking sheet lined with parchment and give it an even coating of cooking spray.
  2. Pop your popcorn kernels with the method of your choosing:
    A) Air-popping. This is what we did because we have one of those air-poppers and they are life.
    B) Stove-top. Put 1-2 T of oil in a large stockpot with a lid. Add the kernels and cover, heat over medium-high heat while moving swirling frequently to keep the popcorn from burning. Let the popping begin!  I turn the heat off when it’s actively popping and then remove from the heat and uncover once the popping slows to 1 pop every 2-3 seconds.
    C) Microwave.  You can use the bags you already have in your pantry if you want, these generally yield about 13 cups of popcorn though instead of the 16 cups you’d get from the ½ cup of kernels (so you’ll have more caramel coverage!).
  3. Pour the popcorn out onto the lined baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  4. In a medium sauce pot, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and butter by giving it a quick stir with a heatproof spatula.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and let boil for about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the peanut butter.  Stirring with the heatproof spatula until smooth and evenly combined (the PB will melt into the caramel).
  6. Then add in the vanilla and stir to combine.
  7. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn and toss as best you can. Don’t worry if your caramel distribution isn’t very evenly distributed.  You’ll be stirring a few times in the next steps.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the peanuts and bacon bits over the popcorn and mix up. The caramel will be pliant still and will allow you to get a more even coating.
  9. Bake for 15 more minutes and stir.  Then put bake in the oven for another 15 minutes (total of 45 minutes) and stir.
  10. Let cool completely.
  11. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power, stirring every 20 seconds or so to keep the chocolate from burning.  Once smooth, drizzle over your caramel corn and let set.
    Peanut Butter Caramel Corn with Chocolate Drizzle
  12. Break up into chunks and place in a big bowl or individual bowls.  Then dig in!