Serving caramel popcorn at a party is always an inspired idea. It’s the one food that pairs well with beer, wine and spirits – specifically whisky - and the kids are always happy to see something familiar at a snacking table.
This popcorn isn’t quite of the caramel variety, but instead it’s a sugared one, glistening with a vanilla-infused syrup that’s been cooked to create a hard candy surface. It also happens to be tossed with roasted, salted peanuts and finished with a blanket of white chocolate. The recipe comes from the new book Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the kind folks at Random House earlier this week
As I was assembling this treat, I was stuck by how perfect it would be for a holiday party. The white chocolate gives the popcorn a snow-dusted appearance and I’m imagining it set out on a buffet of all white foods – baked brie, white crudité and dips, etc.
I also happened to envision it dusted with gold. I was picturing vessels of popcorn tucked into jars and scattered around a party. The light from flickering candles would bounce off the golden kernels, and this already pretty party food could be elevated to something extra special.
As you can see, I loved the idea. And doesn’t it look pretty? This is one of those things that is totally doable – provided you can find the gold glaze – and doesn’t require much effort. I love to create pretty party food, but I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen, which guarantees this recipe is easy. In fact, you could make the popcorn up to a week in advance, and coat it in the gold just before serving as the colouring dries really quickly.
Oh, and one more thing. Last year I shared daily party tips on Twitter over the holiday season. This year I’m bringing them here to the blog. Once a week, between now and the end of the year, I’ll slip a tip somewhere in a blog post and share it via a photo, which makes them easy to Pin. The first one is easy to put into practice:
Serve savoury snack mixes (nut, etc.) in decanters instead of bowls. It’s a prettier presentation and keeps germy hands away from the food.
Golden Candied Vanilla Popcorn
Slightly Adapted from Pure Vanilla
- 12 cups popped popcorn
- 1 cup roasted salted peanuts
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla powder (or 1 whole bean scraped)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 oz. white chocolate, melted
- Edible gold glaze
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine popcorn and peanuts on the tray and set aside.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until the sugar reaches 300 degrees.
Remove the thermometer and take the pan off the heat. Add the vanilla, almond and salt and stir gently. Coat a spatula with non-stick spray and pour the syrup over the popcorn and peanuts in a steady stream. Use the spatula to toss it around, evenly coating the popcorn in the sugar mixture.
Spread the popcorn in a thin layer on the baking sheet and drizzle the melted chocolate over the top. Let the mixture cool completely. When the chocolate has set, use a clean paintbrush and coat the surface of the popcorn mixture with the gold glaze. Allow it to dry before breaking the popcorn into pieces. Store in a container for up to 1 week.