It took a while for people to warm up to the idea of chilli-spiked chocolate. And salted caramel also caused a few raised eyebrows when it first came on scene. Now, after swallowing the idea of putting a savoury seasoning on a cloyingly sweet confectionery, consumers can look forward to another big flavour pairing that’s expected to gain increasing acceptance in 2012: spicy caramel.
While flavour and perfumist company Bell Flavors & Fragrances predicts that salted caramel will have the biggest influence in the food and beverage industry this year, another flavour development company has gone one step further and predicts that consumers will begin to see spicy caramel on blackboard menus in 2012.
Just as chilli-spiked chocolate has become popular for lending the dark, mystical cocoa a soft hum of heat, experts at Sensient Flavors say the sweet, sugary rich flavour profile of caramel offers a good counter balance to subtle notes of heat and spice in their just released flavour report.
Spiced Caramel Corn
If you want to be an early food trend-setter, check out American TV personality Martha Stewart’s recipe for spicy caramel corn.
1 cup whole macadamia nuts
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread nuts on baking sheet, bake until brown. Coarsely chop; set aside.
2. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat (a nonstick baking mat); set aside. In a medium stockpot, heat oil over high heat. Add popcorn, and cover until it’s popped. Remove from the heat.
3. In a large deep pot, stir together water, sugar, and corn syrup. Add vanilla pod, cinnamon,
nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and salt. Bring to a boil. Using a pastry brush, brush down the sides of the pan to remove any undissolved sugar granules. Reduce heat to medium, and cook.
4. Stir in popcorn and nuts until they are completely coated and mixture is deep mahogany in colour. Spread evenly on baking sheet and let cool. Remove vanilla bean before serving.