Cheddar-Caramel Popcorn Bars
If a trip to the Windy City isn’t on your itinerary, don’t worry. A treat combining the city’s favorite popcorn combo stands in until you can experience the real deal.
Chicago is famous for a lot of things — Wrigley Field, the Navy Pier, the Field Museum — the list could go on. Add popcorn to that list. Since 1949, Garrett Popcorn Shops have popped up salty snacks in Chitown, and legend has it that their customers created this now infamous “Chicago Mix” buying and mixing their CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn together.
Knowing a good idea when they saw it, Garrett’s turned the combo into a custom blend trademarked as the Chicago Mix. If you’ve never been lucky enough to try it, now’s your chance. Mix store-bought cheese popcorn with a quick caramel sauce that never gets too hard or chewy and you’ll have a portable version of Chicago’s favorite popcorn treat in these Cheddar-Caramel Popcorn Balls.
FOR THE CARAMEL, MELT:
FOR THE BARS, POUR:
Test Kitchen Tips
Different brands of popcorn contain varying levels of cheese flavor. Feel free to adjust the Cheddar seasoning to your liking.
If you’re more of a Cheddar lover than a caramel one, Cheddar seasoning, AKA Cheddar powder, bumps up the Cheddar flavor in these bars. Made from real Cheddar, salt, and whey as well as stabilizers, you’ll find it near the popcorn in the grocery store or check online retailers and distributors.
For the caramel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk brown sugar and cream into butter until brown sugar melts. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, without stirring. Boil caramel 6 minutes.
Whisk in marshmallows and Cheddar seasoning until marshmallows melt.
For the bars, pour caramel over popcorn. Stir caramel and popcorn together with a rubber spatula until popcorn is coated and no caramel is pooling in the bottom of the bowl.
Press mixture into a 9×13-inch pan. Let mixture cool to room temperature, then cut into bars and serve.