About a month ago, I discovered the beauty of apple cider caramel. Ever since I devoured one of the candies, I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate them into other desserts. I explored with apple cider caramel stuffed snickerdoodles, apple cider caramel pull apart bread, and now it’s time for apple cider caramel chocolate popcorn! I had a box full of popcorn that were near their expiration date so this was the perfect excuse. Liven up your plain popcorn with this apple cider caramel chocolate version – you won’t regret it. You can even wrap them in decorative Christmas boxes or bags and give them away as holiday gifts!
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 4 cups popped plain corn kernels, unsalted, not buttered
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Pour 1 cup apple cider into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to cook apple cider until reduced to 2 1/2 tbsp, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Combine the reduced apple cider with 1/3 cup cream and spices, from cinnamon - allspice. Set aside.
- Measure 2 1/2 tbsp cream in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough water to fill the measuring cup up to the 1/2 cup line. Combine with sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup reaches 234 degrees F.
- Remove from heat and gradually add the cream and cider mixture to the syrup. Add the butter and stir until the butter has melted. Bring back to heat over low and cook until 248 degrees F, stirring frequently. Remove caramel from heat.
- Meanwhile, pop the popcorn. Discard any unpopped kernels. Transfer popcorn to prepared baking sheet, pouring the caramel on top. Stir to coat the popcorn with the caramel. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove popcorn from oven.
- Immediately transfer popcorn to a clean parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool. Break popcorn into pieces.
- Combine sugar with cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the popcorn.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring ever 15 seconds until melted. Drizzle on the popcorn and let chocolate harden. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Caramel is always one of those things that I’m hesitate to make. Cooking the sugar just right can be tricky since it is quite temperamental. For specific tips on how to make the perfect apple cider caramel, check out my snickerdoodles post.
Once the caramel is done, all you have to do is pop the popcorn and bake with the caramel. Ideally, you want to use unsalted, not buttered popcorn for this recipe.
When baking the popcorn with the caramel, make sure to stir the popcorn every 15 minutes. This allows an even coating of caramel for each kernel. Remember to transfer the caramel popcorn from the baking sheet to a new parchment paper after it has finished baking, otherwise the popcorn will stick to the old parchment paper (not a mess you want to deal with!).
If you’re not a fan of chocolate you can omit it, or even substitute it with white chocolate.
Although caramel can be a challenge at times, it’s well worth preparing especially for this apple cider caramel chocolate popcorn. The popcorn is not overly sweet and has a hint of apple cider, making it appropriate for the winter season. To prevent myself from devouring on all of the popcorn myself, I’m wrapping up half and giving them away as holiday treats…another reason for people to love you!