Homemade caramel corn is something I didn’t have until a year ago. (Is that weird?) I was planning a Halloween dinner party and wanted to have something that would evoke the little kid in all of us post-college wanderers, and caramel popcorn came to mind. In general, I had always indulged in store-bought or gifted tins of caramel corn, but had never embarked on creating the cheap and easy snack on my own. In a collection of my husband’s recipe cards his mother lovingly put together to help her son feed himself and survive college lay a simple recipe for caramel popcorn. I wanted to jazz it up and do something somewhat fancy, but not really fancy. Faux-fancy. Brainstorming flavor options, I realized I had a packet of lavender I had bought from work.
Lavender Caramel Corn!
But, oh, wait… I’m not a huge fan of lavender on its own… what else do I put in there?
Rosemary! I enjoy the scent of rosemary and lavender scented bath products, so why wouldn’t it work as a flavor? Thus, rosemary lavender salted caramel corn was born.
I didn’t really want awkward chewy bits of lavender and rosemary ruining the crispness of the popcorn and thin caramel layer, so I infused the herbs in the butter called for in the recipe. To keep with the salted caramel trend, I sprinkled coarse ground sea salt over the cooling mess.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out! (Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-What’s it all about? see Beastie Boys.)
Rosemary Lavender Salted Caramel Popcorn
- 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tbsp dried lavender
- 1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (I used unsalted european style, which has a higher fat content than regular run-of-the-mill butter.)
- 3 qt plain popped corn
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup (don’t be confused with high fructose corn syrup.)
- a few pinches of coarse salt. (I used sea, but you can try with with flakey kosher salt.)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
First, take the butter, the rosemary, and the lavender and put them in the saucepan you will use to make the caramel. Heat on low-medium until the butter is completely melted then dial it back to the lowest setting to keep the butter melted and allow this to steep for 10-15 minutes. Then turn the burner off and allow to steep for 10 more minutes or as long as you wish until the butter tastes as infused as you want it to be. If you haven’t already, pop your corn while you are letting this infuse.
Preheat your oven to 250°F.
Strain the butter. Be sure to remove each bit of the herbs. Return the butter to the sauce pan and add in the sugar and corn syrup. Stir. Bring to a boil on medium heat stirring as it begins to bubble. Once it is boiling, STOP STIRRING and let it boil for 4 minutes. If you go one minute over, it may or may not be detrimental to the finished product, so be sure to watch it and keep track.
When the time is up, stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
Spread the popcorn out in either cookie sheets or large 13×9 in pans. I used two 13×9 in pans to avoid being incredible messy… which is a tendency I have in the kitchen. Pour the caramel evenly over all of the popcorn and toss to coat. Put the sheets in the oven for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to re-coat and allow it to dry more evenly. After 30 minutes, take a few pinches of coarse sea salt and sprinkle over the acres of caramel coated corn.
DO eat some when it’s right out of the oven at the end of the process. It is SO GOOD!