Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year! Happy Caramel Corn!

Happy new year! Maybe I always feel this way and don't remember, or maybe this year in particular has overstayed its welcome, but I am so ready to begin a new year, and a new decade. The slate, she is fresh and ready to be filled with only good things, good thoughts, and good actions from here on out.

How did you celebrate? We went to a friend's house for a casual potluck-style party. In addition to bringing some virtuous veggies, I brought my new favorite nibble: caramel popcorn. I know there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about caramel corn, since you can buy mediocre versions everywhere, but I recently made this particular recipe for the first time and fell in love. It gets really crunchy, so it doesn't stick in your teeth, and instead of being cloyingly sweet it has a lovely caramelized sugar and vanilla flavor.

Of course, it wouldn't be a party without some chocolate, so I drizzled some bittersweet TCHO chocolate over some of the corn. I like both versions, but I might even prefer it plain--it's just that good.

The recipe is under the cut, and I followed it faithfully, except I used cashews instead of peanuts. (It's also wonderful without any nuts at all.)

I hope you all had a great New Year's Eve--did you know there was a blue moon last night? It only happens every 2-3 years and is said to be good luck. Hopefully it's a portent of good things to come this year. Cheers!

Caramel Corn with Salted Peanuts
Adapted from DamGoodSweet, by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
Found on Orangette

1 (3½-ounce) package plain (unbuttered natural flavor) microwave popcorn, or about 10 cups fresh popcorn popped by any method, lightly salted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

If using microwave popcorn, pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (or thereabouts).

Yield: about 10 cups


  1. Happy caramel corn to you! That looks like a splendid way to celebrate - especially the chocolate version.

    Happy New Year!

  2. That's a great way to ensure a sweet start to the New Year :) Here's to more cocolate in 2010 :)

  3. looks great- love the chocolate drizzle!

  4. The corn looks yummy! I love caramel corn! Bookmarked this too!