We’re down to the wire here. Christmas is hours away now and the stores are mobbed with last-minute shoppers. And there’s nothing I dislike more than crowds. I have a strong fear of being buried alive–and shopping on the day or two before Christmas feels a little too much like being buried alive.
You’re in luck, though! You probably already have all you need right in your kitchen to make the perfect gift for those who remain on your list: Salted Whiskey Caramel Corn. Homemade is better than anything store-bought anyway, right? Who needs those brightly-colored tins of stale popcorn when you can make your own scrumptious caramel corn at home. And by making it yourself, YOU control the ingredients–which means better flavor (especially with the addition of a bit of Irish whiskey!).
I highly recommend paying the little bit extra and using Kerrygold butter for this recipe. The butter you use will make a huge impact on the overall flavor of this caramel corn, and Kerrygold’s grass-fed Irish butter can’t be beat! You’re worth it–and so are your gift recipients!
Merry Christmas! May your holiday be full of joy and love!
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ¾ teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon is a good one)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons Irish whiskey
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pop your corn however you prefer to get about 10 cups of popped corn. I have one of those Whirly Pop things that has a hand crank to help toss the kernels around inside so the heat is more evenly distributed, so I added the coconut oil and popcorn kernels to that and popped my corn. Dump popped corn into a large, heat-resistant bowl, add the pecans, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat.
- Add to it the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt and stir until it starts to boil.
- Boil for 4-5 minutes without stirring. If the caramel isn't dark enough after the time has elapsed, you can cook it longer, but watch it carefully; it will go from perfect to burned in no time if you're not paying attention.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, whiskey, and baking soda. It will bubble up, so be careful not to get burned.
- Stir until smooth, then quickly pour over the popcorn and pecans.
- Toss the popcorn and pecans to coat evenly, then spread half in an even layer in one prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other.
- Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until it has reached desired dryness. Every 15 minutes, rotate pans and toss the popcorn a bit, breaking up any big pieces.
- Store in air-tight containers for up to 3 days.
Disclosure: Kerrygold Cheese & Butter provided me with butter to develop a recipe for a contest they were running (which this recipe ultimately won!). No other compensation was received for this post. All photos and opinions remain my own.