Friday, June 14, 2013

FRIDAY = Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn!

Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn

1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped)
1-11/2 cups mixed nuts (**optional** for those with allergies or non nut-lovers, omit nuts for a still totally delicious, Crunchy Caramel Popcorn)  3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line the baking sheet(s) (use one large or two small/medium)with parchment or silpats, or a spray of oil. Once you start making the caramel sauce, everything comes together quickly so have all the ingredients and equipment you need handy!  In the time it takes to pop your popcorn, you can toast the nuts, just place them on the baking sheets, and remember to toss them around every minute or so, for about 5-10 minutes, you can smell when the nuts are done, and you'll definitely know when they're over done! Burnt nuts =worst!
Using an air popper, pop your popcorn.  Once the popcorn is popped, shake the bowl so the unpopped kernels go the the bottom.  Using either your hands or a measuring cup, transfer the popcorn to another large bowl and toss with toasted nuts, leaving the kernels behind!
For the caramel - Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely melted into the butter.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Keep at a rolling boil for about 3 minutes while stirring continuously.
Take the pan off the heat, and add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, it will bubble up excitedly, and that's okay! Continue stirring until it transforms into a thick, glossy sauce.

Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring or tossing (I use salad tossers!) the popcorn (it helps if you have a partner for this step — one person pouring while the other stirs the popcorn). Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.
Spread the popcorn out into an even layer onto the baking sheet(s), you may have clumps, and that's okay!  Bake for one hour, stirring every about 15 minutes.  Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets.


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