Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caramel Corn with Peanuts & Pecans

Pardon the iPhone pictures in this post....  Though I have made this caramel corn recipe several times in the past few months, none of the batches have lasted long enough for me to take proper pictures of them--that’s how good this caramel corn is.

This latest batch became a hostess gift when we visited friends at their ranch a little way from us.  They held a hunting excursion & after party.  Most often, people give a bottle of wine (or other beverage) as a hostess gift, but I like to do something a little different. Especially since I didn’t know what sort of wine would be best to give, I baked something instead.

I have had caramel corn on my mind for the past couple of months.  Yes, there are perfectly delicious store-bought versions (which we consumed large quantities of over the Christmas season), but I had homemade on my mind.

I have a distinct memory of homemade caramel corn, from an undetermined time in my childhood.  Perhaps it was a holiday? Or maybe just a weekend?  Regardless, I remember my mom making homemade caramel corn in our home.  I don’t remember the popping of the pop corn base, nor do I remember the making of the caramel itself.  What I do remember is the ETERNITY it seemed to take to bake in the oven.  And how delicious it was--better than any store-bought caramel corn.

While I don’t have the recipe my mom made many years ago, I did bookmark this caramel corn recipe from Molly Wizenberg of Orangette.  Her blog is one of my favorite’s to read, as is her book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table.

I made the slight adjustment of adding some pecans in with the peanuts.  While I love how the tasty the caramel-coated peanuts that are interspersed throughout the corn, I love the candied pecans even more!  I foresee many future batches of this caramel corn being made--I think it would make a great Super Bowl party snack too!  And perhaps one day a batch will last long enough for me to properly photograph :)

Caramel Corn
adapted from Orangette

3.5 oz/scant 1/2 cup Popcorn Kernels 
3 Tbl Vegetable Oil

2 Tbl Water
1/4 tsp Salt
7.5 oz/1c Brown Sugar
2.75 oz/1/4 c Corn Syrup (light or dark or a mix of the two) 
3 oz/6T Butter

1/2 t Baking Soda
2 t Vanilla Extract

3/4 c Lightly Salted Peanuts
3/4 c Pecan Pieces 

Cooking spray, for the bowl {or other oil} 

  1.  Begin by popping the popcorn: In a large, lidded pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Drop three kernels into the oil & watch until they pop.  Once they have popped, add the remaining popcorn.  Top the pot with it’s lid & shake the pot back and forth/up and down (while wearing oven mitts) to pop the pop corn.  Every so often, tilt the lid away from you to vent the steam.  Continue until the popping sound is nearly finished & you no longer hear un-popped kernels when you shake the pot.  Remove from the heat to cool slightly.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 F. 
  3. In a separate small pot, fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the water, salt, brown sugar, corn syrup & butter.  Heat to 245 F on the candy thermometer.  Gently swirl the pot to combine the ingredients, but do not stir.  
  4. Meanwhile, measure 9.5 cups of the popped pop corn into a greased large bowl--there will be a little extra leftover.  Make sure no un-popped or partially popped kernels make it into the bowl.  Measure the nuts into a separate bowl bowl. Hold the measured baking soda & vanilla extract off to the side too.  Line a rimed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat
  5. When the caramel mixture comes to 250 F, remove from the heat.  Whisk in the baking soda and vanilla (be careful because the mixture will bubble violently).  Gently stir the nuts into the caramel sauce.  
  6. Pour the caramel/nut mixture into the greased bowl holding the pop corn.  Stir until well combined.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.  
  7. Once the baking has finished, remove the caramel corn from the oven & allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Break up the caramel corn into smaller pieces & serve.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.  

One of the times I made this caramel corn, I accidentally set the oven at 350 F (I think I was running on auto-pilot).  When I checked on the caramel corn at the 20 min mark to stir it, I realized my oven temp mistake.  The batch was definitely done!  It was not burned, but definitely much darker in color than the other batches I have made.  And crispier in texture too.  But, it ended up being one of the batches we liked the most--go figure!  So, if you want to make a faster, darker caramel corn, bake it at 350 F for just 20 minutes.  But still watch it carefully.... it may be done before 20 min!

No comments:

Post a Comment