Pecan Caramel Popcorn Bars

Pecan Caramel Popcorn Bars

Is everyone ready for Halloween?? I got my one bag of candy, in hopes that I have at least a few trick or treaters. The first year I lived at this apartment, I got three huge bags — I was so ready for all the kids. Yup, already! I waited and waited and waited. Then I waited some more. About the 11th hours of trick or treating, I finally got two little trick or treaters. One wasn’t old to even have candy and the other, well her parents didn’t look to thrill when I unloaded two huge hand fulls of candy into her little basket. I had so much unwanted candy left over. No wonder we start to gain weight around the holidays.

These Pecan Caramel Popcorn Bars were actually a happy accident. I started out with the intention of marshmallow popcorn bars with pecan and caramel, but not quite like this. I saw a recipe using Rice Krispies with a layer of caramel sandwiched in between two layers. They looked delicious. With  gluten-free Rice Krispies being hard to find (at least for me) and the other brand being so expensive, I thought of my favorite tasty snack food — popcorn.

I get to the caramel part, (which I also wanted to make from scratch and didn’t want to use a candy thermometer) and all the caramel fell to the bottom of the pan. Oh no!!! That’s not what I wanted to have happen. Now what??? Well, I continued with the recipe and added the pecans and second popcorn layer. I needed the caramel to harden a bit and placed in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. When I pried out the large popcorn bar from the pan, there was a nice layer of caramel on the top and drizzled through the center. OK, well this isn’t too bad. I added some extra pecans on top and sprinkled with powdered sugar to make it a bit less sticky. All in all it still tasted good. Not so much the next day… popcorn goes stale so quickly.

Wishing everyone happy and safe Halloween!

Tidbit |  Popcorn Krispies are just as easy and delicious. Follow the directions from #2 – #7 and give them a bit to sit and stick together before cutting.

Pecan Caramel Popcorn Bars

Pecan Caramel Popcorn Bars
Author: 
Serves: 8x8 pan
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 5 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 package (10oz) mini marshmallows
  • orange food coloring
  • 10 cups popcorn, popped
  • 1 cup pecan, chopped
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Grease an 8x8 pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, 2 tablespoons butter, vanilla and salt. Stir until mixture become thicker, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.
  4. Add marshmallows and food coloring, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. Fold in popcorn to coated.
  6. Add half of popcorn mixture to prepared pan.
  7. Press down until even and flat. (Using a piece of parchment or wax paper sprayed with cooking spray to spread out the top layer of popcorn.)
  8. Give caramel a quick stir and pour over popcorn layer.
  9. Sprinkle ½ cup pecans.
  10. Add the remaining popcorn and spread on top.
  11. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until the caramel has set.
  12. Flip over onto cutting board. (You may need to use a spatula to help the bar along)
  13. Sprinkle top with remaining pecans and powdered sugar, if using.
  14. Cut into squares.
 

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