Last week during our usual walk around South Austin, Todd and I stumbled upon a pecan tree that had just dropped a few pecans. We picked up a few and kept walking until we hit another tree…then another, and another. Each tree seemed to have dropped more nuts next than the next! We picked up as many as we could, then spent a few hours trying to remove their shells with a wrench because we didn’t own a nutcracker. A few days later we returned to Pecan Central and found enough pecans to justify spending $4.00 on a nutcracker. Even with an actual nutcracker, shelling pecans is a lot of work, but a few tricks we found on the Internet such as cracking near the tip first and storing the pecans overnight before shelling were helpful. Eventually, we had enough pecans to make this caramel corn.
I was going to call it “Pecan Pie Caramel Corn” but it didn’t really taste like pecan pie at all, so I added pretzels and gave it this highly imaginative name. The recipe is the perfect size because it fills one roasting pan, but still leaves enough room for stirring. Most recipe say to boil caramel corn coating for 5 minutes, but I’ve made this one several times now using a three minute boil, so I feel safe recommending that.
- 8 cups (=popped popcorn, I popped mine in a brown bag in the microwave
- 3/4 cup pecan halves
- 8 pretzels, broken into chunks
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract**
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. and grease a large roasting pan.
- Put the popcorn, pecans and pretzels in the roasting pan.
- Combine the softened butter, both sugars, salt and corn syrup in a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a steady boil. Allow the mixture to boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the soda and vanilla. Pour the mixture evenly over the popcorn mixture and stir to coat.
- Bake at 250 for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Let the corn cool completely (it will crisp as it cools)