Caramel-Popcorn Hot-Fudge Sundaes
If you can’t choose between hot fudge and caramel sauce, try both: Make a quick fudge sauce and a batch of caramel, which coats popcorn and also gets folded into vanilla ice cream. Prep everything in advance, invite a few friends over, and have at the crunchy-gooey-creamy buffet.
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon safflower or coconut oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Caramel-Chunk Ice Cream
2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
1. Caramel popcorn: Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add popcorn and cover. Cook, shaking pot frequently, until corn has finished popping. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in peanuts.
2. Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, 5 minutes. Continue to cook until mixture reaches 290 degrees on a candy thermometer, then remove from heat and quickly stir in vanilla and baking soda, making sure soda is dissolved fully. Drizzle half of caramel over popcorn mixture; pour remainder onto one baking sheet and let cool. Quickly toss popcorn to coat, then transfer to other baking sheet; let cool completely. Break caramel popcorn into bits. Popcorn can be stored in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature up to 5 days.
3. Caramel-chunk ice cream: Finely chop sheet of cooled caramel. Working in 2 batches, soften ice cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat half of chopped caramel into each batch until thoroughly combined. Freeze until firm, 2 hours.
4. Hot-fudge sauce: Heat brown sugar and cocoa in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking to combine. Add cream and corn syrup and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in chocolate, butter, vanilla, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter are melted and sauce is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator up to 5 days; reheat over low heat before serving.
5. To serve, layer ice cream in glasses with warm hot fudge and caramel popcorn.
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