Popcorn is the snack of choice when watching a film, so it makes perfect sense to serve it while watching the Academy Awards, a show dedicated to the film industry. But plain, white popcorn would not do for that glitzy and glamorous show, so this snack has been glitzed up as well–with caramel, nuts, and dried cranberries. (Feel free to add your own dried fruit and nut combo.) This recipe has been adapted from one submitted to Food52.com by “apartmentcooker.”
2 cups peanuts, toasted
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
generous pinch of sea salt
Toss the popcorn, nuts, and dried cranberries together to combine. Line a large space of countertop with parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil. Spray lightly with vegetable spray. Spread the popcorn mixture out on the counter.
Place the butter and milk or cream in a small saucepan with the vanilla bean and seeds and heat until butter melts. Keep warm.
Place the sugar in a large pot. Add the water and mix to combine. It should feel like wet sand. Begin to cook over medium high heat. Stir the caramel until it begins to boil, then allow it to boil undisturbed. (Wash the sides of the pot down with a wet pastry brush as necessary if sugar begins to accumulate on the sides.)
Cook until the carmel is a light brown (If using a candy thermometer, the sugar will be evenly caramelized at around 230 degrees.)
When the caramel has finished cooking, remove the vanilla bean pod from the butter and cream or milk mixture and slowly pour the mixture into the caramel. (It will bubble up violently, so stand back!) Pour the finished caramel evenly over the popcorn mixture. Allow to cool completely. Break it up slightly.
Mix the melted chocolate and pour it over the cooled caramel-coated popcorn mixture. Toss lightly to coat completely. Allow to cool until the chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container.