My family has a longstanding love affair with popcorn. For as long as I can remember, we regularly indulged in popcorn as a snack. I remember an old air popper my dad used to have that had a little cup in which you could place half a stick of butter. The butter would melt into a golden pool of deliciousness as the popper spewed out the freshly popped kernels. Then my dad would pour that buttery goodness all over the popcorn. Delish! But what was even better was when we’d get a real treat and have homemade caramel corn. Jackpot! Adding sugar always equals better, right?
Growing up, I’d always been kind of a popcorn purist. Flavors do not mix. Butter popcorn is butter popcorn. Cheese popcorn is cheese popcorn. And caramel corn is caramel corn. Until that one fateful day when my brother removed the divider from one of those large gift tins of popcorn, yelled, “Chicago Style!!”, and began mixing all three flavors together! I can still hear my outraged cry of “Nooooooo!!!” ringing in my ears to this day! The nerve! How dare he sully the popcorn we all were supposed to share? The flavors could. . .not. . .mix. But what could I do? Let him eat the entire thing himself? Uh, no. He would. . .not. . .win. So, I ate it. And surprise of surprises, I liked it. So ended my reign of being a popcorn purist.
As you can imagine, when companies started coming out with gourmet popcorns and caramel corns, I was all in. Almond caramel? Absolutely. Peppermint bark? Duh! Peanut butter and chocolate? Do you even need to ask? So many different flavor possibilities with one of my most beloved snacks! I definitely have ordered my fair share of gourmet popcorn over the years. But then I thought, “Hey, I could make this myself!” So, here we are with this Iced Cinnamon Roll Caramel Corn. You are going to both thank me and curse me for this recipe! It is amazingly delicious but crazy addicting! You will have to force yourself to put it away, otherwise you will eat the entire batch at once. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂
Since we’re in comfort food season, I thought that a cinnamon roll flavored caramel corn would be perfect for this time of the year. The popcorn is smothered in a cinnamon caramel sauce, mixed with crunchy pecans, and drizzled with a sweet vanilla glaze. Everything you love in a cinnamon roll is soon to become your new favorite popcorn snack!
This Iced Cinnamon Roll Caramel Corn is easy to make, but it does require some patience. You need to allow some time to let the wonderful vanilla glaze set. It’s well worth it, though! I used pre-popped popcorn that I bought from my grocery store’s snack aisle, but you certainly could pop your own if you prefer. I’m all about being efficient with my time right now, so if someone else wants to pop my corn for me, I’m totally taking advantage of that!
Speaking of the popcorn itself, don’t skip the step where you put the popcorn in the oven to warm up while you’re mixing the caramel. The caramel will mix much easier with the popcorn if the popcorn is warm. Otherwise, the caramel will be quick to harden if the popcorn is cool and will be more challenging to mix. (Thermodynamics – yay science!)
You can make this Iced Cinnamon Roll Caramel Corn for any occasion – Halloween parties, tailgate parties, or even just movie night at home. May I suggest a double batch, though? Trust me; it won’t last long!
- 8 cups popped sea-salt popcorn
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda heaping
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, cut into ½” pieces
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 18 x 2 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place popcorn in pan and put in oven to warm.
In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a 2 quart non-stick saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir with a heatproof silicone spatula until the butter melts and the ingredients are mixed.
Cook and stir until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in the baking soda/cinnamon mixture and the vanilla extract.
Remove popcorn from oven and pour caramel mixture over popcorn. Gently stir the popcorn and caramel together to coat the popcorn completely. Add the pecans and gently mix with the popcorn.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven to stir the caramel corn. Return to the oven to bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Transfer the caramel corn to a large piece of foil and spread in an even layer to cool completely.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until creamy.
Place icing in a plastic piping bag or a resealable plastic bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the bag and drizzle icing over cooled caramel corn.
Allow icing to set until dry; about 6 hours. Break caramel corn into clusters.
Store in an airtight container up to three days.