Salted Caramel Popcorn

8 Dec

Traditions are always best kept at Christmas, I find. There’s just something about this time of year that has me come over all ritualistic and sentimental, spending quality time with my favourite people and indulging in pastimes old and new. The start of the season hog out at the Manchester Christmas Markets, the great fanfare surrounding the putting up of the tree at my Mum’s house and the Christmas Eve pickling of my liver at the local pub, log fire burning and my rosy cheeks lighting Santa’s merry way. Year in, year out, I cherish them all.  

This year however, some joyful new customs have come to pass. My first Christmas in Manchester has seen me bake my first ever gingerbread (seriously) and start a Sunday evening ritual of sipping boozy rum and orange hot chocolate with my flat mate, Aoife. Working our way through our stable of Christmas films, each week we introduce some new delight to nibble at; sugared nuts from the markets, freshly baked lemon shortbread and most recently, a big old bag of salted popcorn.

Digressing slightly, it seems popcorn has been having a bit of a moment of late. New trends often supersede the old, with gourmet versions popping up everywhere*, far removed from the traditional sickly sweet overtures of Butterkist and the salty sensation that is cinema popcorn. Peanut butter, soy and sesame and festive mince pie flavours all sound tempting enough, but it wasn’t until I experienced an incredible marmite number at a dinner party that I found myself converted from a serial popcorn hater into a major fan.

Who knew you could be so creative with popcorn? I adore that you can introduce pretty much any flavour, seeing the bland taste on which my initial loathing was based become a major benefit, and being light and chock full of flavour, makes for a perfect pre-dinner snack. It kicks the arse out of a bag of Kettle Chips, and being piss easy to make convinces your guests that you have made some serious effort for their gastronomic delight. It just that bit more festive too, and so, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I pinched the idea.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Fun flavoured popcorn will be a feature of every Christmas from now on, mug of chest hair inducing hot chocolate in hand, but kicking off our annual ‘Taste Sensation’, the salted caramel popcorn recipe I played around with was the perfect prelude to my favourite festive get together with two of my oldest friends. Washed down nicely with a bottle of Prosecco, and returned to at the end of the three courses I cooked with a bottle of tawny port, for me, Becky and Alison, this is one has made its way into the Christmas hall of fame.  


  • Knob of butter
  • 200g popcorn kernels
  • 125g (4oz) butter
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Sea salt flakes


  1. Heat the knob of butter in a large pan and add the popcorn. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until the popping stops. Tip into a large bowl.
  2. Quickly wipe the inside of the pan with kitchen paper then add the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Cook gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Bring the caramel mixture to the boil and bubble rapidly, without stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until caramel coloured. (Don’t leave too long. The darker the colour, the more burnt the caramel will taste).
  4. Leave the caramel to cool until warm, and then add the sea salt to taste.
  5. Add the popped corn to the pan, stirring until coated.
  6. Tip out the popcorn onto two non-stick baking trays and leave to set and harden. Break up into pieces and pile into a large bowl.

* My bad.


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