How to Make David Guas’s Nutty Caramel Popcorn

Chef David Guas’s Bayou Bakery in Courthouse opened recently, bringing beignets, po’ boys, and other New Orleans classics to Arlington. In our video below, the Big Easy native shows how to make a simple dessert that’s always a hit for the holidays: caramel popcorn with nuts. Wrapped in cellophane bags, it makes an easy—and easy-on-the-wallet—stocking stuffer.

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Nutty Caramel Popcorn

Serves six to eight

1 3½-ounce package plain (unbuttered natural flavor) microwave popcorn
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons hot water
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sliced almonds, peanuts, or other nut, toasted at 325 degrees for 16 minutes
Non-stick cooking spray, as needed

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Pop the popcorn according to the package’s instructions and pick out any unpopped kernels. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the popcorn from the bag to the bowl, then set aside.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2-quart saucepot and cook, stirring often, over medium-high heat until it reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.

Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn and, using a rubber spatula, stir together to coat the popcorn. Sprinkle in toasted nuts and fold a couple of more times until they’re distributed.

Divide the popcorn mixture onto 2 cookie sheets lined with either a Silpat or oil-sprayed parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and allow the popcorn to cool for 20 to 30 minutes before storing in an air-tight container until ready to serve or package for gifts. The sealed popcorn will keep for about a week.

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.