Thursday, December 24, 2009
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite ...When our children were small, Christmas Eve required advance preparation and activities to keep them occupied and their excitement under control. The moms of the neighborhood organized caroling adventures, and, whenever possible sled rides down a local hill. The logical conclusion to these activities was an indoor project that would warm small hands and keep them busy at least till the sun set. After 5 o'clock all parents were on their own. Our indoor project and secret weapon was popcorn balls - the kind that could be assembled without sugar syrup and possible burns. However, in the background, sensitive noses could pick up traces of the "real" thing, honest-to-goodness caramel corn that had been made made while the children were out. Over the years, I've come across and made lots of recipes for caramel corn. I keep searching for the perfect one. I came awfully close the year I used the recipe developed by David Leibovitch's that can be found here. Last year I found a new version created by Donna Deanne in The Los Angeles Times. I thought it was wonderful and good enough to try again this year. This is definitely an upscale caramel corn and those who have tried it love it. It's easy enough to do and, in the grand scheme of things, it's well worth the small effort it takes to make. It is quite simply delicious. Here's the recipe. I hope you'll try it.
Caramel Corn...from the kitchen of one Perfect Bite, courtesy of Donna Deane and The Los Angeles Times
12 cups popped corn
1 cup toasted salted peanuts
1 cup toasted salted almonds
2 cups toasted salted pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into quarters, plus butter for greasing 2 baking sheets
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1) Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a large heat-proof bowl, combine popcorn, peanuts, almonds and pecans. Place bowl in to warm while making caramel. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets.
2) In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Heat pan over high heat, stirring to combine contents, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer inserted reads 255 degrees. Stir in baking soda and remove from heat.
3) Pour caramel quickly over the popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Divide caramel corn between two prepared baking sheets and place them in oven. Bake, stirring occasionally, until caramel dries and hardens, about 1 hour. Remove the trays from the oven and allow caramel corn to cool on the pans. Break cooled caramel corn into small clusters and store in airtight containers. Caramel corn will keep for 2 days, stored at room temperature. Yield 12 cups