TT Test Kitchen Tip: Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down the sides of the pan while the caramel is cooking. This removes stray sugar granules and prevents the sugar in the caramel from recrystallizing.
Moonshine Caramel Corn
Yield: 6 to 8 cups
Cook Time: 40 minutes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup unpopped popcorn
¼ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2½ tablespoons moonshine liquor (found online or at your liquor store)
1. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or greased wax paper and set aside. In a large stockpot set over high heat, warm the oil. Add the popcorn, stir and cover. Once the corn starts to pop (in about 5 minutes), shake the pot constantly until the popcorn has finished popping (about 5 to 7 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the cover and set aside.
2. In a separate stockpot, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat without stirring. Cook until the mixture takes on a rich caramel color, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully and gradually whisk in the butter, then the moonshine; remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour the caramel over the reserved popcorn and stir until the kernels are evenly coated, then pour onto the baking sheet to cool completely. Discard the vanilla-bean pod. Store the popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature.