Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Salted Cashew Caramel Corn

We’re friends now you and I, right?  
So,  I feel compelled to be perfectly honest with you.  
No really, if we are going to continue to meet like this, it’s just better that there are no secrets between us.   
It’s always best to just tell the truth … that way you won’t hate me later and our relationship will be stronger.
Please don’t judge me, I’m being very vulnerable right now. 
Here you go, the truth- I’m laying it out…
Look at this caramel corn… you just gained a pound.  If you make this, you will probably gain at least two five pounds, it is incredibly addicting.  It is also likely that after you make this,  you will need to buy some new jeans, and even possibly join a 12 step program to kick the late night cravings.  As we speak, I am sitting behind my monitor, shamelessly eating the last crunchy bites at the bottom of a holiday Tupperware.  True, it was to be a gift for one of my neighbors, but well … you know.  Obviously, we’ve all had caramel corn before, but this recipe should be illegal, pure crack corn – no fillers just buttery, vanilla-scented, salty, sweet caramel corn with nutty surprises in every bite.  There is no hope left for me now, I’m wearing stretch pants and am grappling with  “Step 1- We admitted we were powerless over the caramel corn and that our lives had become unmanageable”.  There it is, out in the open, don’t blame me, don’t say I didn’t warn you!  
See more of you back here in January for some salad…Happy Holidays.

Salted Cashew Caramel Corn
makes about 17 cups

4 quarts popped corn ( I buy a large giant sized bag of salted popcorn – no hydrogenated oils)
1 cup salted roasted peanut halves (no skins)
1 cup salted roasted cashew pieces or halves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  • Spray a large shallow roasting pan (I buy disposable and reuse it for each batch) with cooking spray.  Place popcorn and the nuts in the pan and place in the preheated oven.
  • In a heavy bottomed nonstick large sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP OR YOUR POPCORN WILL DISSOLVE UNDER THE HOT CARAMEL
  • Add in sugar and corn syrup- mix well
  • Turn the heat up to medium and bring mixture up to a boil- not a rapid bowl but a steady flow of small bubbles. IF YOU SMELL BURNT SUGAR,  IT’S BURNT! START OVER
  • Boil for 5 minutes without stirring
  • Turn off the heat and stir in salt, vanilla, and baking soda (mixture will react at first then turn a foamy caramel color)
  • Pour caramel over warm popcorn and carefully begin to stir and fold until all the popcorn is coated with caramel.
  • Place pan back into oven and bake for 1 hour- stirring occasionally (2 times)
  • Remove from oven and cool
  • Break up pieces with a handle of a wooden spoon and store in an airtight container
13 comments… add one
  • marla December 15, 2010, 11:26 pm

    Great sounding caramel corn – better in your bowl than mine from the sound of it! I need to be in a bikini in one week 🙂 Happy holidays my friend & great seeing you last week in LA. XO

  • She's Cookin' December 16, 2010, 4:16 am

    Thanks for the warning! I don't know if I can risk making it, but it absolutely would make a delicious, maybe not thoughtful, holiday gift 😉

  • Jennie December 16, 2010, 4:21 am

    It sounds amazing! I love sweet and salty, especially popcorn!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lana December 16, 2010, 7:56 am

    Louise, I was so thrilled to finally meet you! I am excited about the new group for the OC bloggers:)

    And thanks for offering your help in tech-support. I just finished my photography class, all ready and eager to go out and play.

    This post had me laughing all the way, even though I am not a caramel popcorn aficionado:) But you are very funny!

  • Steve December 16, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Just clipped this to make this weekend. Kids are home so they need something to snack on, right? Right. I'm afraid, very afraid, of instant addiction. Happy Holidays!

  • High Plains Drifters December 16, 2010, 4:12 pm


    That might be the best cooking advice I've ever heard!

    Best to you and yours this holiday. Cheers!

  • Sippity Sup December 16, 2010, 5:33 pm

    This is the kind of thing that would make my dad so very happy. If I were going home for Christmas this would be just the thing. But since I'm not I guess I'll have to eat it all myself. Ohhhh… that is the 5 lbs you mentioned right? GREG

  • Feast on the Cheap December 17, 2010, 1:30 am

    I'm gonna do my waist a favor and NOT make this. I know once I start, I'll never stop. This looks incredible – satisfies the sweet and salty tooth!

  • Renee Fontes December 17, 2010, 5:39 am

    I noticed you didn't offer any samples when I was over, could it be you ate the samples? Come on Louise, we are friends… right?

  • Jenny (VintageSugarcube) December 19, 2010, 8:32 pm

    Looks deeelicious and easy enough for me to make! Gorgeous pic by the way. 🙂

  • Twigs @ Twiggles and Trunks December 23, 2010, 6:50 pm

    on my 2nd batch. this time i added chex cereal with the popcorn/nuts & will sprinkle on some choc chips right as it comes out of the oven.

  • eatthecookie February 6, 2011, 11:50 pm

    i made several batches of this subbing honey for the corn syrup. it turned out beautifully. i also drizzled a little melted dark chocolate over it and will bag it up as valentines for my coworkers tomorrow. thanks for the recipe!

  • Lisa August 15, 2011, 12:51 am

    I made this today since we were snowed in. Really good! But there was no way it took an hour in the oven it took much less time than this. Perhaps my oven is a little on the hot side. 15 minutes and it was well and truly done.

Leave a Comment