I know. I’m a walking contradiction. One minute I’m preaching about the benefits of healthy smoothies and the next I’m making popcorn as fattening as physically possible. But as far as I’m concerned life is all about moderation. So if you’re ingesting healthy things on the regular, it’s totally cool to add caramel, bacon and cashews to your popcorn once in a while. In fact, it’s encouraged! Here you have it: bacon cashew caramel popcorn in all of its beautiful glory.
2. Add oil and popcorn kernels to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cover with lid, letting steam escape slightly. Cook until kernels begin to pop. When popping begins to stop, remove from heat and set aside.
3. In the meantime, cook bacon until almost crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool. Once cool, chop bacon.
4. Add popcorn, chopped bacon and cashews to a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne and toss to coat.
5. Bring cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.
6. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and then grease.
7. Grease 2 wooden spoons and set aside.
8. Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush. This should take around 13 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and immediately add cream (the mixture will bubble up). Stir until blended. Immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture; toss with greased spoons until evenly coated and transfer everything to the baking sheet.
10. Place caramel corn in oven and bake until caramel is shiny and coats popcorn, tossing mixture occasionally, about 20 minutes.
11. Cool completely on sheet on rack, tossing occasionally to break up large clumps.
Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.