Does bacon make everything taste better? We've stuck salty bacon bits on caramel clusters of popcorn to test the theory out. You be the judge. Don't think making caramel is too tricky. This is a cheat's caramel (more like a butterscotch), so you don't need to worry about a candy thermometer or burning the sugar.
- 2 rashers bacon, rind removed, cut into 1 cm squares
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 70 g (⅓ cup) popcorn kernels
- 55 g (⅓ cup) roasted salted cashew nuts, halved lengthways
- 100 g salted butter
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp liquid glucose (see Note)
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch of sea salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 7 cups
Cooling time 20 minutes
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Combine the bacon and 1 tbsp maple syrup and mix until well coated. Spread the bacon in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bacon starts to caramelise. Remove any pieces that are cooked, and cook the remaining pieces for a further 3–5 minutes or until caramelised. Drain on paper towel.
Heat the oil in a 3-litre saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until just before it smokes. Add a popcorn kernel to the oil to test if it is hot enough; if it spins, then the oil is ready (see Note).
Add all the popcorn kernels, swirl to cover the kernels with the oil, cover with the lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 1 minute 45 seconds or until the popping sounds have stopped.
Spread the popcorn onto two large baking trays and sprinkle over the bacon pieces and cashew nuts.
Combine the butter, sugar, liquid glucose and 1 tbsp maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until melted and combined. Increase the heat to medium—high and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 5–6 minutes or until the mixture turns a deep caramel colour. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir to combine.
Immediately tip the caramel over the popcorn and, working quickly, mix with a wooden spoon until evenly coated. Set aside for 15 minutes until cool.
• Liquid glucose is available from supermarkets in the baking aisle. It is colourless and sticky like honey.
• The oil shouldn’t be smoking; if it is, remove from the heat until it stops smoking, then return to the heat.
Photography by Amanda McLauchlan, styling by Aimee Jones.
View more ridiculously tasty recipes from our Popcorn Cup collection to celebrate the World Cup.