Lemon Thyme Caramel CornNovember 9, 2015 By Cathy — 4 Comments
Tangy, sweet and crunchy lemon thyme caramel corn.
I love to host a party; from big, backyard blowouts to a cozy and intimate dinner for just a few, I obsess over the details no matter the size of the gathering. And with the holiday season just around the corner and Thanksgiving only two weeks(ish) away, it’s time for planning in earnest to begin.
Thanksgiving is a bit of a challenge for someone like myself. Not the cooking per se, but the inner conflict I experience between wanting to serve those traditional, must-have dishes and the desire to put some new twists on old favorites. After hosting my share of Thanksgiving dinners, I’ve found that certain dishes are best left alone, while there’s room to play around with others. Mashed potatoes, dressing (stuffing) and gravy are definitely on the untweakable list for my family. I also favor a more traditional bird, although to brine or not to brine is always the question.
When it comes to the cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and greens, I definitely mix it up. And dessert…well, that’s a great place to let your creativity shine. Another tricky part of the Thanksgiving menu are the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Since this is a holiday focused primarily on the meal, you don’t want your guests to fill up before they take their seats around the table. But, you also don’t want them so ravenous that you feel pressured to get everything out in a hurry.
I like to put out a variety of little nibbles…nuts, maybe some cheese and fruit and another favorite is flavored popcorn. This year I’ll be serving a grown up twist on caramel popcorn that is seasoned with lemon and thyme. It’s a tangy, sweet and crunchy bite that will keep my guests satisfied without feeling as stuffed as the bird. And the best part is it can be made well in advance of your gathering. It keeps wonderfully in an airtight container for several days, although I recommend making a little extra for “sampling” before the big day.
Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing recipes that I’ll be serving for Thanksgiving this year and would love to know what will be gracing your holiday table. Tried and true family favorites or branching out with new flavors or techniques? What’s your Thanksgiving style?
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 20 cups popcorn (a simply salted microwave popcorn is a good option - use two 3.5 oz bags)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Place popcorn in a large heatproof boil.
- Combine sugars, butter and corn syrup in a saucepan over med/high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until a candy thermometer reads 295 degrees, about 12-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, thyme and salt.
- Pour caramel over popcorn and stir to coat.
- Spread caramel popcorn onto 2 parchment-lined sheet pans and place in oven.
- Bake 40 mins, carefully stirring once or twice.
- Let cool in pan, then break up any large pieces.
- Store in an airtight container. Popcorn will keep up to 5 days.