What do all holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve have in common? The presence of homemade treats and, undoubtedly, sugar. While holiday sweets almost always materialize in cookie form during the season of sugar, host an event this year that departs from the standard. Instead of sending guests packing with tins of cookies, try a sweet-and-savory mixture that can work as both a mid-day snack and a dessert.
This salted honey, bacon, and pecan popcorn calls upon some favorite Southern delicacies, from bourbon-smoked pecans to fat bites of molasses-cured bacon. Set this out for guests to munch on during gatherings or pack it in baggies and small tins for a giftable treat.
Pour coconut oil and popcorn into a large rondeau (a wide, round, heavy-bottomed, somewhat shallow pot) with a tight-fitting lid, and set over medium heat. Place lid on the pot and let pot sit over heat until popcorn begins popping. Gently shake the pan until popping stops.
Carefully remove the lid from the pan and pour popcorn onto 2 sheet pans. Remove any unpopped kernels.
Place sheet pans in oven to keep warm.
Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and kosher salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and add baking soda. Stir gently with a silicon spatula.
Remove popcorn from oven. Scatter half the bacon and pecans over each sheet pan and then pour half the brown sugar syrup over each pan. Use a silicon spatula to combine syrup, popcorn, and nuts. Sprinkle popcorn with Himalayan salt.
Place sheet pans in a 250-degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove sheet pans from oven and toss popcorn, breaking up any clumps. Sprinkle again with Himalayan salt and return to oven for 45 minutes. Remove sheet pans from oven and again toss popcorn to remove any lumps. Let cool before serving.