Happy Yule! After today the Earth tilts back toward the Sun and our daylight begins to increase. I so welcome the return of the sun. To help ward off the depressing darkness and satisfy hibernation cravings for sweet, crunchy prey, I offer Dark Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Popcorn. The caramel in this recipe is made with dark brown sugar, but paler sugar can be substituted for a lighter result. Real butter is the secret to the perfect caramel flavor. There is enough salt in salted butter so it is not necessary to add any more to the recipe.
This homemade drizzled caramel is in response to commercially made products that contain soy lecithin, and other unsavory ingredients like GMOs. I am allergic to soy, particularly soy lecithin that seems to concentrate the offending soy protein. Just a little lecithin sets off my allergic reaction of intense itching on my back. Lecithin hides in everything, even chocolate. I hunted for several minutes through the baking aisle to find dark chocolate chips made without soy lecithin. Most caramel recipes include corn syrup, a GMO product unless you can find this in non-GMO form (impossible in my area.) I am on a mission to eliminate GMOs from our diet. The substitution of honey works perfectly.
Dark Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Popcorn
12 cups popped corn
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate baking chips
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Place popcorn in a very large bowl so there is plenty of room to stir in the coating. In a 3 quart saucepan melt butter, sugar and honey over medium low heat, stir with a whisk periodically to prevent burning. Bring the mix to a slow boil and simmer five minutes, stirring with a whisk frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. The baking soda may cause some foaming, so be careful. Stir with the whisk for a minute or so until the caramel has achieved a lighter consistency.
Pour some of the caramel over the popcorn. Use a large spoon and mix carefully to avoid breaking the corn. Continue adding caramel and stirring until all the caramel is on the corn and the coating is well distributed. Spread the corn on two large oiled cookie sheets and bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes to avoid burning. This baking gives the caramel a crunch. Remove from the oven.
Melt the chocolate chips either in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, or in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval and taking care not to burn the chocolate. Using a large spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the warm corn. Allow to cool completely. Break into munching-sized portions and store in an airtight container (I lined my containers with waxed paper) for up to two weeks. Good luck keeping it that long!! Makes about 24 oz. This is enough to share some as a Yule gift for your favorite people.