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Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn with Mini Reese’s Cups

May 7, 2012

I made this popcorn recently, along with several other baked goods, because the senior associates on two of my biggest cases were leaving the firm, and since one is Mormon and one had a pregnant wife at the time (the baby has since arrived!), bottles of wine did not seem like appropriate going-away gifts.  It’d be kind of like giving Emily the vegetarian steaks as a birthday present.

It is always bittersweet to embark on a big baking project.  It’s a lot of fun and, for some strange reason, a great stress reliever.  However, whenever I spend more than an hour in the kitchen, I start to miss Emily even more than usual.  Luckily, we’re beginning to plan our next Smitten Kitchen day, so I won’t have to wait long till I can cook and bake with Emily again.

This recipe didn’t take much time at all to make, and the beloved carnivore has since requested that this popcorn become one of our staple desserts/snacks.

The beloved carnivore wound up taking a ton of this stuff to work, all because of my lack of spatial reasoning skills.  I popped two bags of popcorn and didn’t realize until I was measuring the popcorn into a bowl that I only needed one bag.  The beloved carnivore, selflessly trying to prevent needless waste, casually mentioned that I could just make a double batch.

Please note, however, that unless you have the biggest mixing bowl that Ikea sells (I do, because I am on a mission to own ALL THE BOWLS), you should make each batch individually.  It doesn’t take much time to make a single batch, and it is pretty tough to stir a double batch even if you have a mixing bowl big enough.

It was tough to find plain popcorn, and the only kind our grocery store had was relatively low-quality.  Next time, I’m going to invest in some high-quality popcorn.  After I find out where they keep that stuff.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn with Mini Reese’s Cups

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 8 cups plain popcorn (pop one bag at a time, then measure)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini Reese’s peanut butter cups (not the miniatures, which are individually wrapped, but the newish mini ones)
  • Butter or Pam for greasing the dishes
  • Fine sea salt (table salt would probably work fine)

Grease a large mixing bowl or large baking dish (e.g., a Pyrex).   Grease a spatula and set aside.   While you’re at it, grease the measuring cups you will use for the peanut butter and honey, so that you don’t waste too much of those ingredients.

Pour the popcorn into the bowl/baking dish.  Sprinkle a couple of pinches of the salt over the popcorn and stir well.

In a small saucepan, mix the honey and sugar together.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn the heat down slightly and let the mixture simmer for two minutes.  Remove from heat, or simply turn the burner off if you have a gas stove, and add the peanut butter.  Stir quickly until the mixture is thoroughly blended, then add the vanilla extract and stir for ten seconds more.

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir well with the greased spatula.  It will take a few minutes to stir it until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Wait five to ten minutes, letting the popcorn cool a bit.  Add in the mini-Reese’s cups and stir until the mini-Reese’s cups are evenly distributed through the popcorn.   Again, this will probably take a few minutes, but work as quickly as you can, so that the Reese’s cups don’t melt too much.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke until melted, stopping the microwave and stirring well every thirty seconds.

Splash the melted chocolate over the popcorn – you will not need all of the melted chocolate, but it’s better to have extra than not enough, particularly because the chocolate sticks to the sides of the bowl.  Inspired by a powdered sugar trick my sister recently taught me, I took a spoon, filed it with melted chocolate, placed it in the air above the popcorn and tapped the stem of the spoon with my other hand while moving the spoon over the popcorn.

You could also melt the chocolate in a glass measuring cup that has a spout, and pour the chocolate over the popcorn.  That’s probably easier but definitely less fun, and you also have to be careful that the chocolate isn’t pouring out of the cup too quickly.

Let the popcorn sit until the popcorn is hardened, like so:

Then, serve the popcorn, or divvy it up into airtight containers.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 7, 2012 8:30 am

    That looks wickedly good. I’m going to make it for our small group tomorrow night.

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