The Mississippi State Fair rolled in to town last week. So you know what that means:
State fairs are a time for people to give in to their inner glutton. What other time of the year is it perfectly acceptable to eat a deep fried Oreo cookie or a hamburger patty nestled between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts?
In honor of the fair, I thought it would be fun to make some homemade fair food of my own. Caramel corn is one of those food items I always seem to bypass when I’m looking to indulge. But set a bowl of it in front of me and suddenly half of it has disappeared.
Serious caramel corn enthusiasts will appreciate this recipe. Sorghum syrup is made by cooking down the juices from sorghum cane. But unlike its cousin – cane syrup – sorghum syrup has a buttery, but slightly bittersweet flavor. Don’t mistake it for sorghum molasses. Molasses is made by taking the syrup and cooking it down even more until it becomes dark, thick, and takes on that signature earthy flavor. The syrup, combined with bits of bacon and roasted peanuts, gives this snack a sweet and smoky flavor.
If you are going to attempt this recipe, invest in a candy thermometer if you don’t have one already. Trust me. I have tried to make caramel before without one and it was disastrous. If you are an avid cook, I promise you will find other ways to use this tool other than for making candy.
This recipe would be great to give away as a fall happy or later on as Christmas gifts. Better make a double batch. You’ll want to save some for yourself.
Sorghum Caramel Corn
- 8 cups plain popped popcorn
- 1½ cups chopped cooked bacon
- 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup sorghum syrup
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Combine the popcorn, bacon, and peanuts in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook for four minutes without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.*
- Pour mixture over popcorn. Gently stir until popcorn is completely coated.
- Divide coated popcorn among two jelly roll pans lightly coated with cooking spray. Spread the corn evenly so that it is in a single layer. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the caramel corn every 15 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even cooking.