As a football fan and aspiring foodie, The one – or really, two things I want to do is; I want to put on a great party and watch some nail biting football. A good balanced line up will include a hearty main dish, a couple of tasty sides and some memorable munchies.
Even the people who say they aren’t hungry can still be found having a bit of popcorn or nuts. There is something irresistible about it. This recipe blends all of the right fall flavors, the spicy chili, the cinnamon, the crunchy sweetness and a touch of maple.
Now, I can publicly admit, caramel, toffee, fudge and things that require turning sugar into magic have never been my go-to play. So while I would love to dazzle my guests with all the ideas I have for sweet and salty treats, I have shied away from that arena until now. This is a delicate candy coating that blitzes the taste buds. It has a high probability of success too.
Commercial pre-popped corn is often made with mushroom popcorn kernels which hold up to sauces a little better than your typical microwave corn. For this reason, I used Vic’s popcorn, lightly salted. It also saves you a few minutes with the old maids already removed. Use whatever popcorn you like best, of course. This recipe yields about a gallon bag worth of munchie goodness.
2 cups nuts (pecan, cashews or peanuts work well)
6 cups popped popcorn (cleaned of any kernels and hulls)
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a large cookie sheet and put them in the oven while the sauce is being made.
In a large stockpot melt the sauce ingredients together while stirring, about 5 minutes. Pull the nuts out of the oven and add them to the stock pot. Turn the nuts once in the sauce then add the popcorn and stir again until coated. Pour the popcorn and nuts back onto the cookie sheet and bake another 10 minutes stirring at the five minute mark. Remove from the oven and stir again. Let cool on the sheet for 20-30 minutes.
For an even more of a fall taste, consider substituting pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and cayenne powder or even in addition. If you don’t have maple syrup you may also use Karo but you’ll want to add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract. There are a lot of possibilities in this recipe to call an audible on the flavor. Since the sugar base provides the candy coating it leaves you plenty of room for creativity.