Monday, September 10, 2012

Caramel Popcorn

    As summer slowly fades into fall, bringing chilly evenings and changing colors, it is time to start thinking about fall flavors. When I think of fall, I think about Pumpkin, Eggnog, Caramel, Pecans... Things of this nature. When I was growing up, each fall we would go to a friends house and have a hay ride, followed by a bon fire, bobbing for apples, and everyone would have popcorn balls. I never particularly cared for the candied popcorn balls, I much preferred caramel popcorn.
   Now that my children are getting old enough to enjoy these things, I think it is time to start our own family tradition. We have been gathering sticks, fallen limbs, etc. and preparing a spot for a bon fire. I have also been in the kitchen trying different caramel popcorn recipes, searching for the perfect combination of stickiness and gooey delicious flavor. We finally decided that this recipe below is our favorite. It is adapted from a "Salted Caramel" recipe that I had found in a cook book of my grandmothers. This caramel sets up firm, but not 'crunchy', on the popcorn. So if you are looking for more of a "Cracker Jack" feel, this is not the recipe for you. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has!!

What you need:
1 stick of real butter
1 cup (packed) brown sugar (light or brown, it doesn't matter)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large mixing bowl of popped popcorn (I usually use about 1 cup of unpopped kernals, popped on the stove top and lightly salted)

Mix Butter, Sugar and cream together over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Stir only until the butter is melted and all of the ingredients are mixed well. Bring to a boil and do not stir it again. Let it boil for 5-7 minutes, remembering NOT to stir during this time.
(I usually use the cooking time to set out a cookie sheet, and lightly butter it so that the caramel popcorn won't stick to the pan.)
Slowly pour the caramel mixture over the popped popcorn, while stirring the popcorn to coat it as evenly as possible. DO NOT TOUCH THE CARAMEL WITH YOUR SKIN. Once the popcorn is evenly coated, pour the popcorn out into a cookie sheet and pop it into the fridge to cool for 5-7 minutes.

If you want to make caramel popcorn balls, rather than regular caramel popcorn, let the popcorn sit at room temperature for a few minutes before forming the balls. Use caution when handling the caramel, as it retains a high temperature easily. It is also suggested to butter your hands before forming them, then you can either place them on another cookie sheet or cover them individually in plastic wrap and save them for later.

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