When I was single, I would sometimes make dinner out of beer and popcorn. Occasionally, it was followed by ice cream.
I would come home too tired to do much of anything but take off my high heels and plug in my air-popper. But, that was enough. The salty, crunchy, buttery (real butter, of course) corn would improve my mood in minutes. Okay, okay…the beer and ice cream helped, too.
I’ve spread the popcorn habit to my husband, but we don’t eat for dinner. Just lots of snacking. I so clearly convinced him of the value of regular popcorn that he bought me a huge table top popcorn popper for our bar. Now, we can make big batches for our friends when they come over to watch a game.
But, when I want something a bit more than butter and salt on my popcorn, I mix up something like this…
Tequila Caramel Corn
Makes about 4 quarts
4 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp tequila
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
Place popped popcorn in a large, buttered roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in a 200 degree oven to keep the popcorn warm while you make the caramel.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar, syrups, and salt. Stirring constantly while it heats.
Once it starts to boil, stop stirring and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Remove the popcorn filled roasting pan from the oven. At the end of 5 minutes, quickly stir in baking soda and tequila. You may want to add spicy tequila, like I did.
Working very quickly, sprinkle 1 cup of peanuts (I used chile lime peanuts!) on top of the popcorn. Then, pour the caramel on top. It is very helpful to have an assistant here so one person can scrape out the caramel and one person can stir it into the popcorn and peanut mixture. It is very hot, so be careful.
Once the popcorn and caramel are well mixed, put the roasting pan back in the oven and increase the temperature to 250 degrees F. Bake the mixture for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Break apart and let cool before storing.
Charley is not my only four-legged friend. I also have a cat, Izzy. He apparently wanted to see what that other black cat was doing…