Almond Toffee Popcorn was an experiment to see what would happen if I poured my usual almond toffee recipe over a bag of microwave popcorn. The result was buttery, crunchy, sweet, salty and literally irresistible because we could not stop eating it. It was also pretty quick to make.
Quicker Than Caramel Corn
Quick is relative, of course. What's quick about this is that it doesn't absolutely require the 1 hour bake time that most caramel corn calls for. From start to finish, it takes about 40 minutes. You pop the corn, make the toffee, pour it over the popcorn and quick-set in the freezer. The disadvantage to not baking is that some of the more exposed pieces lose crispness. So without the bake, this is best suited for eating within an hour or two. But it's flexible. If you have time, you can go ahead and bake it for 1 hour at 250F, which will help it stay crisper longer.
More Notes on Almond Toffee Popcorn
The ratio of popcorn to toffee is high so even with one bag of popcorn, you'll have some pieces that are very sparsely coated. I like having some pieces thick with candy and others more salty, so 5 or 6 cups of popcorn works for me. If you want it sweeter with more coating on each corn, you can just use less popcorn. Or there's always the option of doubling the toffee.
I kept this batch size pretty small and manageable, but if you like it you can definitely double it. To double it, just use a 3 quart saucepan and double all the ingredients. As written, you should get a little over half a pound of candy or enough to feed a small group. When I get some feedback on the recipe, I may double it, but I do like the small size for now.
- A deep, heavy saucepan, preferably anodized aluminum with a nonstick coating. I use a Simply Calphalon pan I found at TJ Maxx. It holds a little over a quart. If you double, the best size is a 3 quart.
- Some kind of candy thermometer such as the Taylor deep fry/candy.
- Large roasting pan for spreading the popcorn in.
- Space in the freezer to quick set the chocolate.
Almond Toffee Popcorn Ingredients
- Popcorn -- I've only tested with Aldi and Orville Redebacher brands of buttery, salty microwave popcorn.
- Butter -- Unsalted, but I think salted would be okay too. With all the sugar, I don't think it would be overkill to use salted butter and salted popcorn and pretzels.
- Sugar -- Any brand that says pure cane on the label.
- Salt -- Morton kosher or sea salt
- Sliced Almonds -- The ones that look like thin shavings and have a little skin left on them.
- Baking Soda
- Whole Roasted Almonds and Whatever Else -- Anything you want to pour hot candy over. The whole roasted almonds were really good, and it might even be fun to try smoked almonds. Mixed nuts and pretzels will also work.
- Chocolate -- Any kind you have. Just melt a little in the microwave and drizzle or sling it over the candy as it sets. It would have been good without the chocolate too.
Almond Toffee Popcorn
- 1 bag microwave popcorn or 5 to 6 cups popped popcorn
- 1 stick unsalted butter 4 ounces, cut up
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sliced almonds divided use
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup whole roasted almonds or mixed nuts or a mix of nuts and small pretzels.
- 3 oz chopped milk or dark chocolate for drizzling
- Pop any kind of popcorn you like so that you have 4-6 cups popped.
- Grease a roasting pan and line with parchment. Put the popcorn, the whole almonds and any other add-ins in the pan and stir them up.
- Place butter in a heavy, narrow, deep saucepan that measures 1 quart or a little over and melt over medium heat. When butter is completely melted, remove the pot from the heat. Off heat, add the sugar, salt and warm water and stir until evenly blended.
- Set a deep fry thermometer in pan, being careful that bulb is not touching bottom of pan. Set the mixture over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle boil (more than a simmer, but not a furious boil), stirring once or twice until it reaches 240 degrees F. This should take about 7 minutes. You don't want to rush it because the water needs to slowly evaporate as the sugar cookies.
- At 240 degrees, add the ½ cup sliced almonds to sugar mixture. After adding almonds, stir (almost) constantly. Keep stirring and moving the mixture with a wooden spoon until mixture reaches 290 degrees F. If temperature is not rising at a slow and steady rate, raise heat a tiny bit until it starts rising (going from 240 to 290 should not take any longer than 13 minutes). When mixture reaches 290 degrees F or just a little above (no lower), immediately remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat the best you can. There may be some popped corn with barely any candy on it, but that's okay.
- Let the toffee set while you melt the chocolate.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave using high power and stirring every 30 seconds. Drizzle over the popcorn. Throw the whole roasting pan in the freezer (or transfer it to something that will fit in the freezer if your space is limited) and freeze for about 10 minutes or until toffee is set and chocolate is firm.
- Break it apart. Serve it immediately or store in the freezer.