Pilar Valdes' Miso Caramel Corn: Ode to Cracker Jacks

15 minsCook Time

45 minsTotal Time


  • 2 tbsp Neutral Oil
  • ¼ cup minus 1 tablespoon Popcorn kernels
  • 1 ¼ granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp White Miso
  • ½ cup dry roasted, unsalted Peanuts


In a 4 quart pot, add oil and 3 kernels of popcorn. Set over medium heat. As soon as they pop, remove the popcorn, and add the remaining kernels to the pot. Close the lid and shake the pot. Continue to cook popcorn, shaking occasionally, until popping sounds stop, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the lid, and allow the popcorn to cool slightly.  Transfer popcorn to a large heat-proof bowl. 


Wipe out the pot and rinse. Set the pot back over medium heat. Add water and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then adjust the heat to medium high. Do not stir after this point. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and continue to boil until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage, at 300 degrees, about 10 minutes. To test, carefully drop a bit of the caramel in cold water. If it balls up is firm like a hard candy, you have reached the hard crack stage. Remove immediately from heat. Remove the thermometer. Carefully stir in the butter, as it will sputter and bubble. Return the pot to the stove and continue to cook the caramel until it reaches a light toffee color, about 2 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and using heat proof spatula, stir in the salt, baking soda and miso. Add the chopped peanuts and stir until fully coated.


Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn, tossing gently to fully coat.  Prepare a sheet pan line with parchment paper. Spread the Miso Caramel Corn and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes. 


** Working with caramel is dangerous. Don’t be tempted to walk away, and definitely don’t pick up or touch hot caramel! **