Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn with Bourbon

Popcorn is one of the easiest treats to make for Halloween.  

When I was little, one of the most dreaded treats you could get in your Halloween bag was the popcorn ball.  In my memory, they were sticky, gross, and hard as rocks.  

Can I get an "amen" out there?!

Popcorn's come a long way.  It's now chic; places are making gourmet flavors.  Pittsburgh Popcorn has been overwhelmingly popular throughout the city; The Popcorn Bag in Fredericksburg, where I live now, is the local place to go.

This recipe is a variation on Pittsburgh Popcorn's "Chunky Chocolate Caramel" flavor, which is probably their most popular.

You can serve this popcorn with two variations: without the peanut butter powder and/or without the chocolate.  Make it however you choose!

1 c. corn kernels, unpopped
peanut butter caramel, recipe below
1 c. non-dairy chocolate, melted

Using an air popper or on the stove, pop all of your popcorn.  You can Google several ways to do this: in the microwave in a paper bag or on the stove top in large pot.

Before I make my caramel sauce, I'll usually put my chocolate in an oven-safe cup and stick it in the oven at 350°.  That way, you can melt your chocolate while you're cooking your caramel.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the popped corn out evenly on it.

For the caramel sauce:
Adapted from Against All Grain

1⁄2 c. maple syrup
1 T. organic non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, like Spectrum
1⁄2 c. almond milk, or other type of non-dairy milk
1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
2 T. peanut butter powder, like Just Great Stuff
splash of bourbon

Bring the syrup to a low boil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer on medium heat for 5
to 7 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even browning.

Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the shortening, milk, peanut butter, and salt. Return to heat and continue cooking for 15 minutes. As you remove it from the heat, add your splash of bourbon while continuing to whisk the caramel.  Allow it to cool for a few minutes.

***Note: it's better to over cook this caramel.  You don't want soggy popcorn.  The caramel should be able to thickly coat a spoon.

Pour the caramel over the popped corn.  Take the chocolate out of the oven and stir.  Pour that over the popcorn as well, if desired.

Turn the popcorn with a wooden spoon to coat it.  Allow it to harden for a few hours.

My husband kept digging his hands into this popcorn.  It won't last long when you make it!