Popcorn – Sweet + Savory

I didn’t want to give the “guy” teachers Cake in a Jar. I thought they should get something a little less frilly.  Thus, this popcorn!  Eli was already mortified that he had to hand deliver goodies to his “middle school” teachers so why torture him anymore than I had to.  He said to me, as he was leaving the house that morning, “mom, I am not in elementary school anymore”.  Yeah, so, what is that supposed to mean?  Am I hovering?

Anyway, I was reading one of my new favorite blog gals, Food Woolf (found her when I participated in the bake sale last month) and she posted about another one of my favorite gals; Nancy Silverton’s spiced caramel popcorn.  The light bulb went off and I realized that this could be the perfect token of our “appreciation” for those few “guy” teachers.

The original recipe is from Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book (Brooke a.k.a. Food Woolf – created this recipe, inspired by Nancy’s original )and since I love most things Nancy Silverton, I wanted to give it a try.  My friend, Vic (we go way back to middle school) and I spent a long overdue day together last Sunday and it was her desire to hang in the kitchen with me.  As much as I wanted to bake and create, I didn’t want our day together to be just about cooking and dishes.  The popcorn gave us the best of both worlds.

Eli popped the corn while she and I made the caramel sauce.  It was so great having another pair of capable hands by my side.  While I was doing the finishing touches on the caramel sauce, Vic started our lunch.  She is one heck of a chopper!  I was impressed.  After we tossed the popcorn and spread it out on silpat pads, she and I sat down to a nice, quiet lunch, chatting, reminiscing, and laughing.


Spiced Caramel Corn


1 cup of almonds, toasted and loosely chopped
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/3 cup un-popped popcorn
1/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 Tbls. brown rice syrup

1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cardamon, ground
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
13 tsp. Chinese allspice
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt


to pop the corn:
• in a medium sized pot, heat the oil over high heat with one kernel.  when the pops, add the un-popped corn and cover with a lid ( I took a short cut here. I popped in the air popper.  big mistake.  I think it changed the texture of the final product.  I wouldn’t suggest the air popper).  Once the corn begins to pop, shake consistently until you don’t hear any more popping.  remove from heat.
to make the caramel
• off heat, combine water, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla extract and rice syrup in a large, deep pot, stir together.  Once blended, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil without stirring it.  Using a pastry brush dipped in water, remove any un-dissolved sugar from the side of the pan.
• continue cooking over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Tilt pan and swirl to prevent burning.  Wait for this turn a caramel color and starts to smoke.  Add the popcorn and the nuts, stir until completely coated, moving the skillet on and off heat.  Cook to a deep brown.
• pour onto your prepared cookie sheet (lined with silpat) and spread out evenly.  let cool completely before tasting!

The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com

Showing 2 comments
  • jocelyn

    i was so sad too when my kids said “no more gifts for middle school teachers and high school teachers” . they deserve to be thanked as well just not sure how. good for you for doing it anyway.

  • Victoria

    It was a great day! Your home is filled with so much love and wonderful food. Let’s do it again. Vic

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