Monday, September 27, 2010

Yummiest Popcorn (Sweet)

Thanks to my fellow crafting friend Sara, I was introduced to "folksy crack" about a year ago. Be forewarned, it is impossible to stop eating this stuff.

Caramel Corn
adapted from Damn Good Sweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel

10 cups freshly popped popcorn (this is about one "load" in a air popper... but for a lighter caramel coating, try two loads and spread the love)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups plain peanuts (can be omitted, or you can use almond slivers for a different taste)

Preheat oven to 250* (see note), and line a rimmed baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Pop popcorn and place on parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle peanuts (or almonds, or nothing) on top.

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt with 2 tablespoons of water. Pre-measure your vanilla and baking soda in a small prep dish, as you won't have time once the caramel reaches 250 degrees.  Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees (this should take less than five minutes once the caramel is at a simmer). Do not try to make this recipe without a candy thermometer. Working quickly, remove the pan from the heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix with a spatula until it is well coated.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, making sure to get the caramel and peanuts off the bottom of the pan and onto the popcorn. If you don't stir/flip/toss/rearrange the popcorn, the caramel will burn and you will be sad. Let cool, and break up any large clusters of popcorn that have formed before serving. 

This popcorn makes a great gift... if you resist eating it long enough to give it away!

* Note: some ovens go into "broil mode" at this low temperature. If this is the case with your oven, place the rack as far from the active heat coil as possible and check often to ensure your popcorn isn't burning. Because that would be absolutely tragic.

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