Friday, December 31, 2010

Caramel Corn

Despite the fact that every part of my body is screaming for vegetables and fruits, and all things healthy, I somehow wound up making caramel corn last night...

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, with my own instructions for kettle corn

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus more for pans, bowl, and spatulas)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted peanuts  (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper *(optional; more or less depending on how much spice you like)
3 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons salt **(more or less depending on how salty you like your sweets)

Lightly coat a large bowl, 2 baking sheets or pans, and 2 nonstick rubber spatulas with vegetable oil.
In a large pot heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add one kernel to pot and wait for it to pop, which will let you know the oil is hot enough. Add remaining kernels and gently shake pot to coat kernels in oil, then cover. Pay attention the sound of the popping kernels and remove pot from heat once popping slows to one pop every few seconds.
Move popcorn to prepared bowl and add peanuts if using.
If using cayenne pepper, mix it together with the baking soda and set aside.
In a medium to large saucepan or pot combine the butter, water, salt and sugar.
Cook over high heat without stirring for 10-14 minutes, until the mixture becomes a light golden yellow colour***. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in baking soda.

Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix with the well oiled spatulas. Once mixed spread the popcorn out onto the prepared pans and separate them into small pieces while still warm. Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container.

*I used the larger amount (or maybe even more) of the cayenne and didn't notice it too much, although i really like spice so maybe I've become immune to it?
** I used the lesser amount of salt, and although it tasted great, the salt lover in me wondered if it could have been more amazing with more salt. I will experiment and report back.
*** The colour of the caramel in my photo looks darker than you want to aim for. Unless you're using lots of cayenne like me, it should be lighter in colour.

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