nori and black sesame caramel corn

You may or may not already know this about me, but I’m totally lame.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

Other than going to work, I rarely ever leave the house. I loathe going into Manhattan, especially to go shopping, and thanks to the magic of the internet I don’t even have to leave the house to buy underwear!

I can remember a time (in my 20s) when my social calendar was overflowing, but over the years I started going out less and less. I got married, I took a stressful job, I got two little dogs, I started a food blog, I started trying to save rather than spend extra money. Before I knew it all these things added up to me going home, cooking dinner, and watching the Walking Dead after work rather than going out drinking with friends.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few weeks ago, some amazing friends of mine invited me to the movies with them. It was a hard choice to make, whether to sit on my duff in front of the TV or to go talk to live humans in the wilderness of Williamsburg Brooklyn, but after some soul searching and option weighing I chose human interaction. Weird right?

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thing is, going to the movies in New York City is expensive. Like crazy expensive.
We discussed picking up snacks on the way to smuggle into the theater, but before I left the house a funny thing happened. Russell was out of town and I was alone at home on my day off and I was bored. I started getting excited about the prospect of leaving the house, and the next thing I knew I was in the kitchen.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

Out of nowhere, I decided I needed to make caramel corn. I’ve only made caramel corn once before, but before I knew it the popcorn was popping and the caramel was bubbling away. You might not expect it, but caramel corn is actually a pretty easy recipe. Easy for homemade candy anyways. You don’t need a candy thermometer at all, just an easily adjusted burner and a good kitchen timer. And the ability to move quickly while handling bubbling hot sugar without injuring yourself.

I’ve been on a bit of a sesame oil kick lately, so I decided to swap some of the butter in the recipe for some nutty, toasty sesame oil. And some black sesame seeds. And why not, some crushed up toasted nori flakes too.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

Before you turn your nose up at caramel corn with seaweed in it, rest assured this stuff is GOOOOOOOD. My friends were going crazy for it and impassioned whispers about how amazing it was could barely be heard over the movie. Weeks later they’re still cursing me for how good this stuff is and how they couldn’t stop eating it through the whole movie.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

This is everything you want in good caramel corn with a little something extra. First you get the crunchy, sweet, salty, caramely, amazingness that you expect, but then you notice the nutty toasty sesame flavor and a gentle hint of salty brininess from the nori. The nori is really just a subtle hint that pairs incredibly with the sesame flavors and complements the salty caramel in a really modern, mature, and interesting way.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you still really aren’t sold on the nori though, I promise you can leave it out and still maintain the modern and mature flavor of this caramel corn.

About a week later I actually made this recipe again at my grandmother’s behest. We were having the same friends over to watch the Oscars and planned to make some braised chicken for dinner. Grandma asked what I had planned for dessert, and when I said we weren’t having dessert she insisted that I couldn’t have a dinner party without something sweet at the end. So, with only an hour or two before I needed to start dinner, I decided to try another twist on this same recipe.

Never wanting to serve the same thing twice, I decided to make a few little changes to add a different flavor. I skipped the nori, and added a heaping tablespoon of srirachi chili sauce instead (added at the end with the vanilla and sesame oil).
This version was equally phenomenal, and I’d be really hard pressed to pick a favorite. Along with a great chili flavor, the Sriracha adds just a hint of lingering heat that’s amazing with the sweet buttery caramel and isn’t overpowering in any way. If you’re really not stoked on the idea of seaweed in your caramel corn, go ahead and try the sriracha version instead.

nori & black sesame caramel corn | Brooklyn Homemaker

Nori and Black Sesame Caramel Corn

  • Servings: makes about 8 cups
  • Print
adapted from the New Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, 2005

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (8 cups popped)
1/4 cup crushed nori (optional)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 300.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed stockpot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add popcorn and cover with a lid. Using potholders or a towel to hold the handles, shake the pot around to keep the kernels moving as they pop. When several seconds pass between pops, remove from heat. Remove and discard any un-popped kernels and return popcorn to the pot it was popped in. Crush nori up into small flakes with your hands and add, along with sesame seeds, to the pot with popcorn.

Combine brown sugar, butter, salt, and corn syrup in a medium sauce pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium to maintain a moderate boil, and cook, without stirring, for exactly 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in sesame oil, vanilla, and baking soda. Immediately pour caramel mixture over popcorn and gently toss toss toss to combine as quickly as you can. If you don’t work quickly the caramel will harden and become difficult to mix.
Spread popcorn in an even layer over a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stir mixture around, and bake for 5 minutes more. Once cooled enough to handle gently toss the popcorn around so it doesn’t all stick together in one large block.

Store tightly covered for up to one week. It probably won’t last that long.

*variation: If you’re not sure about the nori but like a bit of heat, try skipping the nori and add a heaping tablespoon of sriracha along with the sesame oil and vanilla in the recipe.

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24 comments

  1. Tux! This is amazing! We are totally boring in our loved up, newly-engaged home too. We’d rather camp on the couch with our dog and some West Wing re-runs, but I think this delicious caramel corn (definitely trying the sriracha version for my spice-lovin’ man) is the best way to spice up our Friday night Netflix ritual :)
    Who knows, we might even be inspired to take it out to the cinema with us and get some human interaction too :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. okay, so i’m going to need a big bowl of both of these. i love sweet, salty and spicy and i can imagine it would be impossible to pick a favorite here. and i’m with your grandma…a little something sweet is a must at the end of a good meal. maybe i’ll try this when i’m hunkering down to watch the walking dead on sunday. even though it’s not show that inspires eating, i don’t think anything could distract me from this popcorn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I’ve learned the hard way that TWD is NOT a show to watch while eating! Luckily this caramel corn stays crunchy and delicious for almost two weeks, so it’s fine if you need to push it away and go back in later!

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  3. Oh my golly. Tux, this is AMAZING. Though, it’s probably gonna totally foil your stay-at-home plan, as every Tom, Dick and Harry is gonna want to invite you out the movies (Oh Tux, can you… uh, bring some of that caramel corn?”).

    As another lame I’d-rather-be-home-on-the-couch married person, I totally get the preference for TWD, snacks and pottering around the kitchen. My husband and I are watching reruns of Brooklyn 99 now (we’ve run out of new stuff, any recommendations?) so I have a feeling your caramel corn recipe’s gonna come in handy this week. Sriracha for me, nori for him (he totally can’t handle his chilli!).

    Thanks for the recipe, glad I stumbled across your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laura! I’m so glad you found me too!
      I actually have another friend who’s been BEGGING me to make this for them, so it’s already begun- hahaha!
      There’s a new show on Netflix (only 4 episodes though) called Cooked. It’s an adaptation of Michael Pollan’s last book (also called Cooked) so if you’re a food nerd like me you’ll LOVE it!!! Other than that I mostly watch HGTV and Food Network! Hahaha!

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      1. I LOVE Michael Pollan’s stuff. I’ve actually read Cooked but haven’t seen the show yet. I’ll have to look it up! And yes, total freakin’ food nerd. Embarrassingly so. I get ridiculously excited at food markets. Aaron rolls his eyes (I think I look like a kid in a candy store, ha!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my god. This is just…perfect. I remember waking up the morning you posted this and I literally just died because you’re perfect and this popcorn is perfect and I just…can’t.

    This looks super amazing! I’ve been thinking about doing a black sesame ice cream lately but have been kinda scared/unmotivated, per the usual. But this combo with the caramel is just …OMG. You’re an evil genius!

    I love this story too – parallel lives! If we’re going somewhere after work, I always need to know about it at least ten days in advance so that I can prepare mentally for the prospect of NOT lounging in sweats all night lol i know I should be living life to the fullest and all that…but I’d just rather be at home. Eating things. Like this. Send some over? K thanks :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wowwww! Thank you!!! You know you’re doing something right when you’re referred to as an evil genius! I really wish that would happen more often! hahahaha!
      I think a black sesame ice cream would be aaaaaaahhhhhhmazing!!!!! You NEED to make that happen! I beg you!
      As for needing advance notice for social occasions, boy oh boy do I hear you! I remember the days when I went out and did things and have a life…. and just thinking about those days makes me tired! Jeez Louise! When did I get so old????

      Liked by 1 person

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