Here’s a copycat recipe for Australia’s (current) favourite confectionary – Golden Gaytime Popcorn! Caramel popcorn drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with biscuits crumbs, it’s ridiculously addictive but rather expensive. Save a fortune by making it yourself!
Golden Gaytime Popcorn
Popcorn and candy lovers alike were in a tizzy of excitement with Golden Gaytime Popcorn was first released. Yours truly included. The chatter between closet popcorn-loving friends, however, quickly moved from “Far out, this is crazy good!” to “OMG can you believe it’s so expensive”??
Named as such because it’s a popcorn version of a beloved Australian’s ice cream called Golden Gaytime, one packet of the Gaytime popcorn is $5.75 for 100g (3.5 oz). A small bag with just 2 cups of Gaytime popcorn. I can’t afford to feed my addiction!!
Which, of course, lead to what was affectionately dubbed The Gaytime Popcorn Project – a homemade version I was confident I could create for 80% cheaper. How’d I do? My report card is at the bottom of the post!
Store-bought Golden Gaytime popcorn
A quick inspection of the ingredients label was all I needed to come up with a copycat recipe. It’s really just caramel popcorn with a drizzle of chocolate and sprinkling of biscuit crumbs.
However, my homemade Gaytime Popcorn is far more generous on the chocolate drizzling (oh, why not? 😇). And you won’t break the bank!
Hmm, I did a “sprinkling of biscuit crumbs”, didn’t I. But it looks more like I’m assertively throwing biscuit crumbs in the photo below. You want biscuit crumbs? Here’s your biscuit crumbs!!! 😂
Ingredients you need
Here’s what you need to make this. The first part covers the caramel popcorn, then the second part covers the chocolate drizzle and biscuit crumbs.
Caramel popcorn ingredients
Here’s what you need for the caramel popcorn:
Corn syrup – This stabilises the caramel to ensure sugar crystallisation doesn’t occur, gives the caramel a nice shiny finish that’s crisp rather than sticky. Common grocery item in the US and Canada ! It can be purchased online in Australia from USAFoods.com.au and Amazon.
Glucose is a perfect substitute for corn syrup which is available in Australian supermarkets (baking aisle, clear thick syrup with honey consistency). Just a little harder to measure out because it’s so thick. However, the popcorn needs to be baked for 15 minutes longer to make sure the caramel coating dries out and becomes crisp. This is because glucose has slightly higher water content.
Baking soda / bi-carb – This makes the caramel coating become sort of foamy and increase in volume when you whisk it in. It helps get even coverage of caramel on the popcorn. Without the baking soda, you end up with big globs of caramel. It can’t be substituted with baking powder.
Toffee, caramel or vanilla essence – Store-bought Gaytime popcorn has a stronger albeit more artificial caramel flavour than homemade. To replicate this, use a caramel or toffee essence. Otherwise, just stick with vanilla like normal caramel popcorn. It’s honestly not a big deal, the popcorn still has a lovely caramel-y flavour.
Brown sugar rather than white sugar, for better caramel flavour.
Butter – For flavour. Not margarine or other alternatives. I can’t predict what that will do to the crispness of the caramel coating.
Oil – Anything neutral flavoured like vegetable, canola or peanut oil. This is for cooking the popcorn. It doesn’t work as well with butter (because butter is ~15% water and dairy, not just fat).
Popping corn! It’s usually sold in the potato crisps aisle in grocery stores here in Australia.
Chocolate drizzle and biscuit crumbs
For the chocolate drizzle and biscuit crumbs, you just need chocolate suitable for melting and some plain biscuits to crush up then sprinkle on the popcorn.
Chocolate -You can use a combination of dark and white chocolate, as I have done (like the store-bought Gaytime popcorn mix), or just one or the other.
Use a chocolate purchased from the baking aisle rather than eating chocolate. Baking chocolate is purpose-made for melting and cooking with, whereas eating chocolate is actually often designed specifically so it doesn’t melt when warm! I typically use “melts” for melting and chocolate chips for things like chocolate chip cookies as they are designed to hold their shape when cookies are baked.
For those of you in the US, semi-sweet chocolate chips is perfect.
Plain biscuits – A signature part of Golden Gaytime Popcorn is the sprinkling of crushed biscuits on the popcorn. The ingredients label specifies that it’s vanilla biscuits. Honestly though, any plain sweet biscuits will work just fine!
How to make Golden Gaytime Popcorn
Simply make caramel popcorn then finish with a drizzle of chocolate and sprinkle of biscuit crumbs. It will stay crisp and fresh for at least a week – I’m sure it will last for longer (caramel popcorn lasts for weeks). But every test batch I made mysteriously disappeared before I could finish testing the shelf life!!
1. Pop popcorn
Pop your popcorn kernels using your method of choice – stove or popcorn maker, if you have one (I do, but for some reason digging it out of the back of the cupboard seems like more effort than cooking the popcorn on the stove).
Here’s how to cook popcorn on the stove.
Test kernels – Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add a few pieces of popcorn and wait until it pops, then quickly remove.
Add remaining popcorn, elevate off stove to shake and spread corn out evenly. Cover with a lid.
Shake! Once the popcorn starts popping in earnest, shake the pot gently once. Remove from heat when the popping stops (when you can count to 3 between pops) and transfer to a (very!) large bowl.
To make the caramel melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir until just combined.
Simmer – When it starts to bubble, simmer for 4 minutes – DO NOT STIR! This may cause the sugar to crystallise so you won’t end up with a smooth caramel.
Baking soda “foamy” – Remove from heat then quickly whisk in caramel (toffee or vanilla) and baking soda. When you stop whisking, the caramel will foam and increase in volume. This is what makes the caramel coat the popcorn evenly. Without the baking soda, you end up with thick heavy globs of caramel on the popcorn and it’s impossible to toss.
Coat popcorn – Quickly pour the foamy caramel straight over the popcorn and toss to coat the popcorn as best you can until the caramel cools and starts to harden.
Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so. The caramel will remelt for the first 2-3 tosses so it coats the popcorn more evenly.
REMINDER: If using glucose instead of corn syrup, bake for an extra 15 minutes.
Cool – Remove from oven, leave to cool on the tray for 20 minutes so the caramel hardens. Then break up the popcorn – no need to be too pedantic, clumps are great!
Gaytime the popcorn!
OK, so time to transform our caramel popcorn into Gaytime Popcorn! Here’s how:
Bash the biscuits into crumbs either in a ziplock bag or using a mortar and pestle.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I use this) or bain-marie (bowl set over simmering water).
Transfer the melted chocolate into a piping bag. This makes it easier to get even coverage and zig-zag chocolate drizzles like you get with the store bought Gaytime popcorn. But if you prefer, you can just use a spoon for drizzling.
Ready for drizzling!
Drizzle the chocolate all over the popcorn in whatever pattern you prefer. There are no rules! Except – aim for even coverage. Nobody wants to be the unlucky person who gets a handful of chocolate-less popcorn!
Sprinkle the popcorn with the biscuit crumbs while the chocolate is still wet. The biscuits will stick to the chocolate part only, and it kind of sticks in concentrated (albeit small) patches so you can taste it a little better. I preferred this method rather than sprinkling it on the caramel popcorn whilst in the oven (the crumbs kind of got lost).
Once the chocolate sets – I speed things up by popping the trays in the fridge for 15 minutes – it’s ready to dive in!!
In theory, Gaytime Popcorn should stay fresh and crisp as long as Caramel Popcorn which has an excellent shelf life of several weeks.
Test batches made it to around the 1 week mark successfully before mysteriously disappearing. So I can’t say for sure, but I’m confident it should last for at least 2 weeks. Just make sure it is stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. If moisture gets in and/or it’s hot and humid, the caramel coating will get sticky and chewy so it gets stuck in your teeth.
This was a jar intended for gifting. It never got gifted. 🤭
REPORT CARD: Homemade is 68% cheaper!!
I boldly stated when I started on the Gaytime Popcorn Project that I believed I could make it for 80% less than store-bought.
We’ve run the numbers and the results are in.
One batch costs $8.96 to make which equates to 5 packets of store bought Gaytime Popcorn which costs $28.75 ($5.75 per packet). That’s a 68% saving!
So, I was 12% off. But still. I would never spend $28.75 for 5 packets of Gaytime. But I would spend $8.96 to make a batch of this any day of the week – and twice for movie night! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Golden Gaytime Popcorn – copycat recipe!
For the popcorn
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (not required if air popping with a popcorn maker)
- 1/2 cup popping corn
For the caramel
- 100g / 7 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar , tightly packed cup
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (sub glucose, Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp cooking/ kosher salt
- 2 tsp toffee or caramel essence OR 1 tsp vanilla (substitute) (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (bi-carb) (Note 3)
Golden Gaytime Finishes
- 1 1/4 cups dark or white chocolate melts or chips (US: semi-sweet chips), I used ~25% white and 75% dark (Note 4)
- 4 plain sweet biscuits (like Marie Crackers) (Note 5)
- Test oil – Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add a few pieces of popcorn and wait until it pops, then quickly remove.
- Pop – Add remaining popcorn, elevate off stove to shake and spread corn out evenly. Cover with a lid. Once the popcorn starts popping in earnest, shake the pot gently once. Then crack the lid a tiny bit – let's steam escape for crisper popcorn.
- Remove from heat when the popping stops (when you can count to 3 between pops) and transfer to a (very!) large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 110°C/230°F (both fan and standard ovens).
- Combine – Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir until just combined.
- Simmer – When it starts to bubble, simmer for 4 minutes – DO NOT STIR!
- Baking soda "foamy" – Remove from heat then quickly whisk in caramel (toffee or vanilla) and baking soda. When you stop whisking, the caramel will foam and increase in volume.
- Coat popcorn – Quickly pour straight over popcorn, toss until caramel cools and starts to harden.
Baking to crisp caramel coating:
- Spread popcorn on 2 large paper lined baking trays.
- Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so. Caramel will remelt for the first 2-3 tosses – tossing coats popcorn more evenly with caramel. (If using glucose, bake further 15 minutes).
- Cool – Remove from oven, leave to cool on the tray for 20 minutes. Then break up the popcorn – no need to be too pedantic, clumps are great!
Drizzle and crumbs
- Crumbs – Place biscuits in a ziplock bag and bash into crumbs.
- Melt chocolate – Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second increments on high, stirring in between, until melted and smooth – about 1 1/2 minutes. (If doing a small amount of white chocolate, reduce to 20 second increments).
- Piping bags – Transfer chocolate into a piping bag. Use scissors to snip a small opening at the tip. (Alternative: just drizzle with a spoon).
- Drizzle & crumb – Push the popcorn together but in a single layer. Drizzle criss-cross (or any pattern!) all over the popcorn. Sprinkle with biscuits crumbs while the chocolate is wet so it sticks.
- Fridge – Refrigerate for 15 minutes until the chocolate is firm. Gently break popcorn into pieces. EAT!
- Store in an airtight container in a cool place. Stays crisp for at least a week. Our test batches never lasted any longer!
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