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Caramel Popcorn Cheesecake Bites

Dessert, Recipes


An aspiring pastry chef, Annslea Schaber was a member of 4-H nearly all of her childhood and completed almost every cooking project the organization offers. As fellow popcorn-cooking contestant Josette Schaber’s daughter, it’s only natural she entered her own creation in Marion’s 2016 contest. Her Caramel Popcorn Cheesecake Bites are tiny treats that’ll have you coming back for seconds. “You have the creamy texture of the cheesecake and on top you have that popcorn crunch,” Schaber explains. Currently a baking and pastry student at Sullivan University in Kentucky, Schaber says she hopes to one day open a “rescue bakery” that acts as both a bakery and animal shelter. “I’ve always loved animals,” she says, “and I want to bring those two loves together.” 


Caramel Popcorn Cheesecake Bites | Makes 24

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs 
1/2 cup chopped peanuts 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided in half
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
1 1/2 packages Philadelphia cream cheese (12 ounces total), softened 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 egg 
12 Kraft caramels 
1 tablespoon milk 
1/2 cup whole salted peanuts
Caramel popcorn (see recipe below) 

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 325 F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, chopped peanuts, brown sugar, butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt and press into bottom of 24 paper-lined mini muffin cups. Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add egg and beat until just blended. Spoon into muffin cups, adding about 1 tablespoon to each. Bake for 15 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes are almost set. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place caramels in a small bowl. Add milk and the other 1/4 teaspoon salt and melt in double boiler. Cook until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. 

Remove mini cheesecakes from refrigerator and drizzle about 1 teaspoon of caramel sauce over each. Lightly press pieces of the caramel popcorn and a couple of peanuts into the hot caramel. Refrigerate 1 hour. 

Caramel Popcorn 

INGREDIENTS
Cooking Spray
4 quarts popcorn, popped
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 250 F. Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in oven while preparing caramel. Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and then let boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla and mix well. Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Once cooled, break apart and store in a tightly sealed container.