Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Caramel Popcorn Part I

So winters come full blown and all you want to do is cuddle up on the couch with a plate of your favourite comfort food. I love popcorn anytime of the year but during winter I like to indulge in caramel popcorn. I've been wanting to make this for a long time but never got around to doing it so when I found these videos on ehow.com I thought I will give these a try tonight. The nice thingk about popcorn is that it's so versatile. You can add sweet or savoury flavourings and lately popcorn has found its way to the dinner table. With the caramel popcorn you can add nuts or drizzle it with melted chocolate to make it even more decadent. A word of warning though...make sure you fish out any unpopped kernels before adding the caramel otherwise get ready to make a trip to the dentist. Bon Apetit!

Warning: Be very careful when working with caramel as it gets very hot and can cause bad burns.

How to make stove top popcorn (okay so you already know how to do this but I thought I'd include the video)


How to make caramel popcorn part 1


How to make caramel popcorn part 2


Finishing off your popcorn


You can use slightly more or less popcorn depending on how heavy you want you popcorn coated with caramel popcorn.

A tip for popping your popcorn: Pop the popcorn on medium heat. When popping has slowed down (a few seconds delay between popping) turn off the heat and leave to continue popping. When popping has stopped remove from stove and pour popcorn into a bowl. I find that the steam from the pot wets the popcorn that's why I like to transfer the popcorn to a bowl as soon as it's done popping.

After reading the recipe you might find yourself wondering what light corn syrup is. It took me a while to figure it out but even once you've figured it out you will soon come to realise that we just don't have it in South Africa. My suggestion to you is that you use golden syrup in it's place. You could also use glucose syrup but it's so much more expensive and harder to find.

Another thing that might have you scratching your head is the packed brown sugar. I shopped for days looking for packed brown sugar in the shops and was about to pull out my hair (okay so if you know what it is you probably laughing at this point) when - thank the heavens - I came across a post on the internet clearing the point on packed brown sugar (thank God for the internet). Packed brown sugar is not a type of sugar. The "packed" refers to how you measure the sugar. If a recipe calls for packed brown sugar then it means that you have to pack the sugar tightly in the cup when measuring it.

When I first read this recipe I thought why do I need to put this in the oven. It's just extra work and extra washing up. Depending on the humidity the caramel will remain soft even after it has set. Putting the popcorn in the oven ensures that the caramel is crunchy once it has set. I like sticky popcorn sometimes but I find that it sticks to my teeth too much so I generally prefer it crunchy.

1 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup oil
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt (you could use less if you using salted butter or margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 250 degree F (120 degrees Celcius). Pour oil into the bottom of a large pot and add popcorn. Heat over medium-high heat. Place a tight fitting lid onto the pot but leave a space on one side for steam to escape. Pop the corn. When the popping slows down (few seconds delay between popping) turn off the heat. When it’s all popped, pour into a large bowl and season with salt.

Step 2
Put popcorn (already popped) in a large bowl. Set aside.

Step 3
In a heavy saucepan, combine margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt and melt on medium heat. Bring to boil stirring while stirring constantly. Leave to boil without stirring for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.

Step 4
Pour mixture over popcorn. Stir to coat. Spread popcorn on a large greased jelly (swiss) roll pan or large oven tray.

Step 5
Bake in a 250 degree (120 degrees Celcius) oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Watch the popcorn closesly. If gets to dark or begins to burn then remove from the oven immediately. Remove from oven and spread (in a thin layer) on wax paper to cool (you can stir now and then to prevent the popcorn from sticking). Break apart and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

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