Tuesday, December 27, 2011
homemade caramel popcorn
The past few years, I've been giving out jars of homemade caramel popcorn as Christmas gifts. It's so much fun to make, and it makes the whole house smell delicious!
I've been using Alexis Stewart's recipe (Martha's daughter) for caramel almond popcorn, and I've made different variations - sometimes I use peanuts instead, or sometimes I leave out the nuts altogether. It still tastes delicious.
I start by popping popcorn in a large stock pot on the stove, which is so easy and fun for the kids to watch (especially if you have a clear glass lid for your pot). Now at this stage, the popcorn is already delicious - you could just add some salt and drizzle on some olive oil (or drizzle on Giada's rosemary-infused olive oil - so good!).
But since we're making caramel popcorn here, I just pour the popped popcorn into the largest mixing bowl I have (and add your toasted nuts if using), and then set it aside. Then comes the making of the caramel. In a small pot, combine butter, brown sugar, and a little bit of corn syrup (to make the popcorn shiny), and melt it all down. Once it reaches 255 F with a candy thermometer, take it off heat and add in some salt, vanilla extract, and baking soda. Then stir it up, and immediately pour it over your popcorn. Toss your popcorn with the caramel (I use two spatulas for this) until evenly coated, and pour out onto two silpat-lined baking sheets.
Then I bake it at 250 F for a little over an hour, stirring it up every half hour or so. And then, out comes the most delicious, buttery, crunchy caramel popcorn!
I like to give out my caramel popcorn in large mason jars, with a pretty piece of fabric over the lid and tied with raffia. The caramel popcorn will stay crunchy in the sealed jar for couple of weeks. Enjoy!