What are Reindeer Munchies you may ask? They're a fun take on classic caramel corn that's drizzled with melted chocolate and sprinkled with toffee bits. It's such a mouthwatering snack to make and nibble on during the Christmas season but, the appeal actually lasts far beyond Christmas. Serve them at your holiday parties, give tins as gifts or make a batch any time of year you need a nostalgic sweet treat.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- For the caramel popcorn:
- 4 quarts lightly salted popped popcorn [around 16 cups]
- ⅔ cup salted cocktail peanuts [or your favorite nut]
- ¾ cup butter [1 ½ sticks]
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅔ cup light corn syrup
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pure vanilla
- For the topping:
- 1  oz pkg milk chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp solid vegetable shortening [or ¼ cup heavy cream]
- ⅓ cup English toffee bits
- sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 250°F. Spray 1 large, deep roasting pan with cooking spray. [ I used a disposable turkey roasting pan for easy clean-up]
- Pour the popcorn into the baking pan.
- Pick over the popcorn removing any loose unpopped kernels. Sprinkle the peanuts on top. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.
- Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, then immediately lower the heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Set a timer for this step. There's no need to stir it constantly, however, you should give it a good stir periodically to keep the caramel from sticking to the bottom.
- After 5 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the baking soda, stirring constantly. The baking soda will cause the mixture to foam. Continue to stir until the foam begins to die down, then add 1 tsp of vanilla.
- Pour the warm caramel over the popcorn and stir well. The popcorn won't be perfectly coated at this stage.
- Place the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.
- Cover the counter with wax paper.
- After 1 hour, spread the caramel corn onto the wax paper to cool completely.
- To make the chocolate drizzle: Melt together the milk chocolate chips and shortening. You can do this in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler. [See cook's note] To melt in the microwave, heat in 20 second increments stopping to stir each time. Repeat until the chocolate is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. The shortening will give a more crunchy texture to the chocolate once hardened. If you prefer, you may use heavy cream in place of the vegetable shortening. It will lend a softer texture to the chocolate, and will take a bit longer to set-up. Use approximately ¼ cup.
- Drizzle the warm chocolate over the popcorn. Immediately sprinkle with the toffee bits and sea salt to your taste.
- Allow to set-up for 1 hour or until dry. Carefully separate into clusters.
- Store tightly sealed at room temperature.