Wednesday 25 December 2013

Salted Caramel Popcorn Nut Medley

Ahhhh caramel corn, the finger food of happy holidays, satisfyingly sweet and ever crunchy. To me caramel corn evokes memories of my grandmother who used to make it with a sticky caramel of thick molasses which would just get absolutely everywhere! Even with gummy fingers and the occasional tenacious bit of popcorn stuck in our teeth, the entire family has great memories of candy corn, how can we not? Caramel corn is nana's kitchen, going further back in time it's crackerjack, poppycock and carnival candy, the artful twist of old time confectioners, a mouthful of elegantly exploding caramel combined with the good old country charm of popcorn. This caramel is an upscale and modern twist on the old treat, out is the thick molasses and pauper's peanut, in is the rich buttery salted caramel and a vibrant mixture of exotic nuts. THIS, this, is a decadent recipe for the holidays!

This recipe is inspired by the caramel corn in Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel's Bouchon Bakery cookbook. If you ever have a chance, do take a gander at their beautiful book!

While we're at it with the disclaimers, do keep a candy thermometer handy to closely monitor the temperature to your caramel. Remember, good caramel is a science!

You'll need:
-1/2 c. Water
-1c. + 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
-1/2  1tbsp. Brown Sugar
-1/4 c. + 1 tbsp. Light Corn Syrup
-70 g. Salted Butter
-1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract
-2 tsp. Baking Soda
-1 tsp. Salt
-1 3/4c.  Mixed Nuts, salted (I prefer those purchased at costco)
-10 c. Popcorn

Lightly grease a large bowl and a cookies sheet with canola oil
Pop all of your popcorn, pour three quarters of it into the large oiled metal bowl, keep the rest close

Combine water, sugars, corn syrup and butter in a large high-rimmed pot, heat on medium-high stirring constantly

Once the caramel reaches about 290 degree Fahrenheit (143 celsius) you can move on to the next stage if you want a chewier caramel, should you prefer a crunchier one, take it up to 300 Fahrenheit (148 celsius).

Mix together the baking soda and salt, add to caramel and continue to stir vigorously, watch out, it will foam!

Immediately add nuts to caramel, stir again and pour mix onto popcorn, use a spatula to get it all out, work quickly as it will solidify fast.

Add leftover popcorn on top of the caramel and mix it all quickly, technically you want to be gentle enough as to not crush the popcorn but tough enough to mix the thick caramel in.

 I recommend working with two wooden spoons and make sure not to burn yourself, caramel burns are not fun (This old soldier has the battle wound to prove it to ye')

Once sufficiently mixed, pour popcorn onto the greased baking sheet

let cool 5 minutes, break it all up and store in an airtight container or serve

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