Thursday mornings in July, I drive along the banks of The Big Thompson River down to the town square in Estes Park to the Farmer’s Market. Strolling through the tent-lined square with my arm draped through my basket, I tug my sweater tight across my chest to ward off the chill. I chuckle at the notion of needing a sweater in July and make a mental note to remember this moment in October back in Texas.
The first vendor I visit is always Heaven’s Popcorn. Their sweet and salty kettle corn is the best I’ve ever tasted. One summer I joked to Alan, the owner, that he must sprinkle the addicting popcorn with crack. He laughed and let me in on the secret ingredient, “actually we season each batch with love.” I sulked away humiliated by my dorky remark, but Heaven’s Popcorn can make you say strange things.
It’s almost October and back home in Texas I still don’t have reason to unpack my sweater I lovingly wear in the cool Colorado summers. Despite our warm weather other clues remind us of fall—Friday night football, gold and crimson mums on front porches, and pumpkins piled high outside the grocery store waiting to be carved by children in the neighborhood.
All that to say, I’m craving Heaven’s Popcorn. Since I know I couldn’t come close to recreating my favorite summertime snack, I thought I’d strike out in a slightly different direction with a spicy caramel popcorn. This recipe is a crowd pleaser! Feel free to tweak the amount of Sriracha to your heat tolerance. The caramel balances the spice nicely so I say go for it!
Spicy Caramel Popcorn is a perfect party food. Gather friends for football watching party or pack individual servings in brown bags and take to a potluck. You could even sneak spicy caramel popcorn into the movies, but don’t tell them you heard that from me!
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (to taste!)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 cups popcorn, plain
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and salt. Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.
- Remove from heat, stir in Sriracha, vanilla, and baking soda. Pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated.
- Spread caramel coated popcorn evenly over parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.