Caramel Nut Popcorn
8 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/3 cup kernels)
1 1/3 cups pecan hales, toasted
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanillas extract
Toss the popcorn, pecans, and almonds in a large bowl and set aside.
Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil until the caramel sauce is pale golden and a candy thermometer inserted into the caramel sauce registers 300°F, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Immediately pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and nuts. Using two large oiled wooden spoons, toss the popcorn and nuts to coat with the caramel sauce. Transfer the caramel corn to the prepared baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Set aside to cool completely (the caramel will harden as the mixture cools). Break the caramel corn into desired pieces.
Cook’s Notes: The caramel popcorn can be made 1 week ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
You’ll need a candy thermometer to make sure the caramel sauce reached the “hard-ball” stage (300°F). It’s at the stage that the sauce will harden once cool.