Bacon and beer caramel corn is an epic upgrade
Who would have predicted a year ago that yeast and lobster sales would skyrocket while on-the-go foods like nutritional bars fueled up? Another, less discussed beneficiary of pandemic-related bans have been cookbooks. Printing revenue rose 15% in the first three quarters of 2020 compared to 2019. No wonder bread cookbooks led the way. According to the NPD group, sales increased by 145% over the same period.
Popular Brooklyn bakery Ovenly has capitalized on this renewed obsession with a new edition of their 2014 volume, Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes From New York’s Most Creative Bakery (Park Row Books; $ 24).
One of the old favorites is: spicy caramel corn, topped with fat pieces of bacon.
The kernels are dipped in an ale-infused cayenne pepper caramel. Add bacon and the result is addictively smoky, sweet and flavorful, combining a large amount of desirable products in one place. It’s a breeze with beer as this is the secret ingredient, although it will complement a winter whiskey drink as well.
And as a show-off snack for the Super Bowl, as well as any series that you compulsively stream on Netflix?
Probably everyone knows how to make the basic ingredients bacon and popcorn. This leaves the beer caramel, which is the hardest part, but is made infinitely easier with a candy thermometer (they cost less than $ 10 at grocery stores or online). Then it’s just a matter of combining the products and waiting for the popcorn to cool down enough to be eaten.
The following recipe was taken from Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin from Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery.
SPICY BACON AND BEER CARAMEL CORN
6 slices of thickly sliced bacon or 10 slices of regular bacon
Vegetable oil cooking spray or vegetable oil
1/3 c. Popcorn kernels
4 T. made bacon fat (from cooking the bacon)
3 c. sugar
3 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. dark English ale
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 T. salt
1 1/2 t. Baking soda
1 t. Cayenne pepper or to taste
Fry the bacon in a pan for about 10 minutes until crispy. Place on paper towels to cool and crumble into large pieces. Pour off 4 tablespoons of fat for the popcorn. Save the remaining fat for another use.
Spray a large mixing bowl, baking sheet, and two large metal mixing spoons with nonstick cooking spray. In a popcorn popper or large saucepan with a lid, heat the bacon fat over medium to high heat. Add the popcorn, cover, and cook until all of the grains have popped. Shake it constantly to avoid burns. When using a poppers, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the popcorn to the coated bowl and mix in the cooked bacon. Combine the baking soda and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
Combine the sugar, ale, water, butter, and salt in a large saucepan. Cook until mixture turns a rich golden brown and reaches 305 ° (or hard crack level) for about 15 minutes with a candy thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a spoonful of syrup in cold water. It should be hard enough to crack when you shape it.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cayenne pepper and baking soda for 30 seconds one until lumps have been dispersed and the foam subsides.
Immediately pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn and bacon and mix well with the prepared spoons until everything is well coated.
Spread the caramel corn on the prepared baking sheet. Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces and serve. Makes about 4 cups.
– Tribune News Service