Natural popcorn, macadamia nuts, and toasted coconut coated with coconut caramel candy.
Last year I added caramel corn to my goodie gift boxes for the first time. It was met with such a positive response that I couldn’t help but include it again this year.
Making caramel corn seems really simple. You just pop some corn, caramelize some sugar, and mix. Right? Essentially the answer is yes, but… There are a few challenges when coating with candy. Here are a few tips to help with these challenges.
I find it is easier to mix the popcorn in a large heated roasting pan, The large surface area gives the popcorn room to spread out. So that more of the popcorn will be coated when pouring the caramel, requiring less mixing. The pan’s high sides keep the corn from flying out. Heating the pan keeps the sugar soft, giving you more time to mix the corn. During this process, the sugar may start to harden or get stringy. If this happens, put the pan back in the oven for 3-5 minutes. The sugar will soften back up, and you can continue mixing.
I spread the candy on oiled and lined pans. The spray keeps the corn from sticking to the pan. While the pan’s large surface area allows for separation of the kernels. Again, the pan can be put in the oven if the candy is hardening too quickly. Once the corn has cooled, I use the paper to transfer the corn to an airtight container for storage.
I used natural microwave popcorn for this recipe. I do not recommend using popcorn with flavorings. The flavor additives can make the candy taste funky. I do use a little butter in this recipe well because I like butter! If you would like to make the caramel vegan, substitute more coconut oil for the butter.
Coconut Caramel Corn
- 1/2 cup macadamia nut pieces
- 10 cups natural popcorn or 1 bag
- 1/2 cup coconut shaved or flakes
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast macadamia nuts for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Toast coconut for 3 minutes or lightly brown and set aside. Pop the popcorn and remove any unpopped kernels.
- Line two sheet pans with parchment and spray with pan spray. Place a large baking or roasting pan in the oven. In a large pot combine coconut milk, corn syrup, sugar, salt, butter, and oil. Place the pot over medium heat. Dissolve the sugar and turn the heat to high. Cook the caramel to 300-325 degrees. Caramel should be brown but not burnt. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
- When the caramel has finished remove the pan from the oven. Place popcorn, mac-nuts, and coconut in the pan. Pour the caramel mixture on top and mix with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Continue mixing until all of the kernels are coated. Spread the popcorn over prepared sheet pans, separating any large clumps. Let the caramel corn cool and harden. Store in an airtight container.