Spicy Bacon Caramel Corn
5-6 slices of bacon
Nonstick cooking spray
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you like things spicier; less if you don't)
3 cups white granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and lay bacon side-by-side. Transfer baking sheet to hot oven, and cook bacon for 15 minutes until crispy and brown. Remove, and place on paper towels to drain. When cool, break into dice-sized pieces.
Lightly coat a large heatproof rubber spatula and a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 4 minutes. Transfer the popped popcorn to the large prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.
In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up). Quickly fold in bacon bits. Pour the caramel over the popcorn, and toss, like a salad, until all of the popcorn is evenly coated with the caramel.
Pour the popcorn onto a large baking pan, and quickly flatten and separate it into small pieces while it is still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once it is cool, store it in a well-sealed airtight container. Caramel popcorn will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes a large batch of popcorn.