Monday, December 13, 2010

Just a Little Between Your Teeth and Gums

If last week was all about cookies (which I realize I have yet to post about but soon will!), then this week is about the candy.  Maybe it's my last ditch attempt to avoid the Christmas shopping that still needs to be done (sigh).

This is a recipe that has been floating around my family since, gosh, way back when I was in college?  {Ahem} We'll dispense with the discussion of how long ago THAT was.  Anyway, I remember it being on this faded old card with a Jiffy Pop logo.  WAY before microwave popcorn became the norm.

During the course of the holiday season, I probably make 3 - 4 gallons of this stuff.  I even sold it at work one year to help raise money for something Offspring 2 was doing.

Here in the Northwest, this recipe can get tricky at times.  Not because it's in any way difficult to make.  It's the humidity.  With all of the rain we get in the winter, our humidity levels are really high, and the sugar in this tends to crystallize, which is did with this batch.  Still delicious.  Just doesn't cover as well or come out as smooth.

I like to put a big bag of this in the conference room, which sits directly across from my office, and watch people sneak in and out and surreptitiously grab a bite here and a bite there.  I'm telling you, it is seriously addictive.

Caramel Corn

24 cups popped popcorn (if you want to dispense with the stovetop popping, use 3 bags of NATURAL microwave popcorn - no butter or salt), remove kernels

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ - 1 tsp salt (use less if you're using salted butter)
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Put popcorn in one or more large baking pans (or use an aluminum turkey roaster, which has the added benefit of being able to be tossed after - not very ecologically sound, but a big timesaver).

Heat oven to 250º.

In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a full boil. Continue to boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add baking soda and vanilla and stir until the mixture is an equal consistency throughout. Pour over popcorn and stir to combine.

After adding the baking soda and vanilla, see how it foams up?

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit so that the caramel hardens (and so you don't give yourself 3rd degree burns), then break up with your hands.

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