Saturday, October 24, 2009
Do you ever have something you want to make or a recipe that you want to try but for some reason you keep putting it off? That's how I felt about making caramel corn. I expected it to be time consuming, messy and to have a burned sugary mess on my hands. None of the above happened and it really couldn't be easier! The hands-on time is minimal, the clean-up was a cinch. The hardest part is waiting for it to bake in the oven.
All you do is pop your corn (I used my air-pop popcorn maker but you could use microwave popcorn or make it the stovetop way. My son had never seen popcorn being popped before. He was so excited as the little kernels rattled and swirled around the air popper then all of a sudden reached their popping temperature and all began exploding into puffy pieces of joy (in the eyes of an almost-3 year old). It was priceless and one of those unexpected yet utterly rewarding mother-child bonding experiences. Working full time means that I only see Zach 2-3 hours/day from Monday to Friday - between when I pick him up from daycare and before he goes bed. I miss the year of maternity leave I had where we got to connect with other parents at mom-baby events and do swimming lessons, spend a day at the park, etc.
Ok, back to the corn. :)
After your corn is popped it takes literally 5 minutes of boiling the caramel on the stove. Then you dump it over your popcorn, stir it, put it in the oven. It's so easy, cheap and so much better than storebought. Looking back now, it seems silly that I ever paid for caramel corn. Let alone the $10 they charge for a medium bag at Kernels Popcorn at the mall.
The best part about making your own is that you can CUSTOMIZE!!! This first batch I made was plain but you can bet that next time I am going to add pecans or honey roasted peanuts. Since I love my sweets I might also opt for a higher caramel to corn ratio, maybe doubling the caramel recipe. Seriously, if you like caramel corn, try this.
Makes 5 Quarts | adapted from Paula Deen
1 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light or golden corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
5 quarts popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
1-2 cups nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Set out 2 large roasting pans (or lasagna pans). Pick through the popcorn to remove any unpopped kernels. Place popcorn and nuts (optional) in a very large bowl.
2. Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour over popped corn and stir to coat well. Divide the popcorn between the 2 roasting pans. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
**Tip**: Leave one pan in the oven while you stir the other so it doesn't cool and harden. Bake for longer if you like crisper popcorn.
3. Remove from oven to cool, breaking the popcorn apart when it is cool. Store airtight.