Saturday, January 1, 2011

Caramel Corn

Happy 2011!! Or maybe I should say "Holy crap. How is it already 2011?", because that is how I truly feel.

We have a long standing tradition of bringing in the New Year with some very good friends of ours, and this year was no exception. They are regular new-recipe guinea pigs, so I figured this was no time to change things up. I had settled on two savory snacks to bring, but also wanted to bring something sweet, yet easy to snack on. The solution: caramel corn.

Boy did this fit the bill. The caramel sauce required no thermometer, just a couple ingredients thrown in a pot, boiled for 5 minutes, than drizzled over freshly popped corn. It was then baked at a really low temp just enough to set the caramel and give it that nice crunch that you expect when eating caramel corn.

Back to it being 2011... My resolution (or better, my desire) is to try and enjoy my kids more everyday, not just they days they cooperate and do what I want them to. :) While I will by no means do this perfectly and it isn't exactly measurable, I have recently been reminded that this life is unpredictable and doesn't owe us a thing, so to invest in the things that truly matter. The payout and reward for that is eternal.

What are your resolutions? Or are you one of those who resolve to never make a resolution? Even if you fall into this camp, I would suggest resolving to make this caramel corn for the upcoming Super Bowl or whatever bowl game you plan to watch. While it isn't in itself an eternal investment, it'll definitely spark conversation with people and people definitely are.

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Coming soon - the recipe that prompted my husband to tell me that my making it may have made him love me even more. It is so friggin' good.

Caramel Corn

1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pop popcorn using your preferred method. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (I needed two large bowls).  Remove any un-popped kernels from the popcorn and make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.

Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring.  Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.  Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.  (I found my salad spoons very useful for this step.)

Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout.  It will melt and become better spread out while baking.)  Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes.  After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn.  If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.
Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.

Source: Annie's Eats

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