I’m not likely to post too many recipes here, but I finally have two minutes to rub together and I wanted to post something new – plus, I just happen to have made some of this for breakfast so I thought I’d share!
This recipe is crazy easy and takes almost no time – light caramel corn. It’s a treat that always reminds me of Main Street USA in Disneyland (as time wears on, you’ll find that I’ve pledged some kind of weird, religious allegence to Disneyland that I think comes from growing up so close to it), as well as summers as a kid making it with my grandmother in her little, old silver trailer that you could barely walk in (and yet they managed to have a couch – go figure). My mother would make this, too, sometimes but bless her heart, she’s got no idea how to cook and one thing or the other always burned.
Which brings me to the first part of this recipe. See, all of the delicious caramel in the world won’t taste right on popcorn that’s even slightly too dark. You’ll end up with a bitter mess, so best to learn the easiest way I know of making popcorn without burning it.
1/4 C ( 57 g) popping corn + 5 kernels
Pour enough oil (usually about a tablespoon and a half) to coat the bottom of a 3 quart (2.8 litre) saucepan and put it over medium-high heat. Dump your 5 kernels into the pan and cover with a glass lid (trust me, you want a glass lid when you’re popping popcorn). Wait patiently until all of your kernels are popped then remove from heat and place on a cool burner.
Now pour in the rest of your popcorn, cover and count to a slow 30. Place your popcorn back on the heat and continue to pop until the popcorn tries to push the lid up (don’t worry, it won’t if you’ve got a proper size sauce pan and the right amount of corn!) and the popping slows to about half a second to a second between popping sounds. Now move to the cool burner for a moment and let the popping finish until it’s all but silent.
Pour it into a large bowl or stock pot and set aside. It may take you a few tries, but you should be able to pop every kernel without burning or even browning, Now comes the good stuff!
1/4 C (1/2 a stick or 57 g) of unsalted butter or marge
2 liberal pinches of salt
1/2 C (110 g) packed brown sugar
1/2 C (170 g) white corn syrup
Pinch of baking soda
1 tsp (6 ml) of vanilla
As soon as you’ve transferred your popcorn to a big bowl (must be BIG, big enough to mix and coat the popcorn) you need to run your tap on medium temperature and immediately rinse out your pan (yes I know it’s hot, yes I know it sizzles, just trust me!). Make sure you get out any kernel shells or left over corn then put the empty sauce pan back over your medium-high heat.
Let it warm for a minute or so then turn it to low and add your butter, salt and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until blended but you can still slightly see the butter like a film on the perimeter of the sugar. Turn up to medium-high again and pour in your corn syrup. Stir constantly for 2 full minutes (yes, put on a timer) then pinch in some baking soda.
Keep stirring – you should see the color of the caramel lighten significantly (like black tea with a fair amount of cream) and it’s texture should now be foamy. Keep stirring until the caramel starts to gloss. Now remove from the heat to a cool burner or trivet and continue to stir as you pour in the vanilla (this will sizzle, don’t worry).
Pour over your popcorn quickly and use the wooden spoon to fold the popcorn over on itself repeatedly until coated. You can form this into popcorn balls and let it cool (will harden as it cools) or you can do what I do, and eat it warm. You can also toss in some pecans, walnuts, peanuts or cashews to make it more interesting. You can also use maraschino cherry juice to cherry-flavor white sugar and substitute that for the brown sugar, makes a tasty cherry corn!
If you try it, would love to hear how it turns out!
P.S. Get that pan filled with hot soapy water – you’ll thank your stars you did!