Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Caramel Popcorn - One Last Bit of Wickedness for 2009

Some of you are probably finishing the year now, feeling good about all your accomplishments, whether they be professional, personal, major or minor. Maybe you even stuck to your New Year's Resolutions, and are finishing this year 6 inches taller, a couple of stone lighter and giving Elle Macpherson a run for her money. Congratulations. I am deeply impressed. However, if you do not count yourself among gods like that and 2009 has actually been a year of mixed blessings, then you may still have a little bit of room in your calendar for a last piece of wickedness before we shut the door on 2009. And this is not just any type of wickedness - it is wickedness of the highest order: caramel popcorn.

I saw this on Orangette's blog a week or two ago. I am a late-comer to the phenomenon that is Orangette; in fact I think she has filed only about half a dozen times since I first clicked onto her site. She does however belong to the small pantheon of bloggers who have managed to morph from the virtual into the real world, with a book to her name, as well as a new restaurant. She also does beautiful photographs which feel a bit melancholy and sentimental me. Go have a look. But back to the caramel corn: it is fabulous. It is nothing like any sticky candy corn-type recipe you have ever tried. It is crisp and sweet and salty all at once. It is more-ish, and even better, it is pretty easy to make, provided you follow the instructions as she gives them. Take it from me, it would be an appropriately wicked way to end the year.

Caramel Corn with Salted Peanuts

Adapted from DamGoodSweet, by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel, with notes from Molly Wizenberg aka Orangette:

- Be sure to have a whisk and a rubber spatula close at hand. You’ll need them both on short notice.
- Before you begin cooking the caramel, measure out the baking soda and the vanilla, and chop the peanuts. You won’t have time to do it later.
- Do not try to make this recipe without a candy thermometer.

1 family-size package plain (unbuttered natural flavor) microwave popcorn, or about 10 cups fresh popcorn popped by any method, lightly salted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (5 Aus tablespoons)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 125C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If using microwave popcorn, pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray (I used olive oil spray), and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla.

Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (or thereabouts).Yield: about 10 cups

1 comment:

Debinhawaii said...

Glad it is 2010 so I can't be wicked and make this! ;-) It looks so good!