Caramel Corn

August 26, 2014 | Posted by Charlotte March

So, I realize that this month on the B-Team is devoted to FRESH corn but I couldn't resist posting my absolute favorite, crowd-pleasing, mouth-watering snack: Caramel Corn. This recipe was developed by the lovely and talented Anna Kovel for Martha Stewart Living back in July 2010.


The best, foolproof method for popping corn is to heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Place a few kernels in the pot and cover with a lid. Crank the heat up to high and wait for the telltale popping.


Once the “test kernels” have popped, add the remaining ½ cup, put a lid on it and let it go. Once the popping has slowed to less than a pop or two every 5 seconds, immediately pour into a large bowl.


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine the popcorn (you should approx. 12 cups from ½ cup kernels) and 1 ½ cups nuts (in this case I used salted roasted peanuts but alternative suggestions are below).


Melt 10 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil without stirring. Seriously, DO NOT STIR or your caramel will crystalize. If you have a candy thermometer you can cook until mixture reaches 248 degrees, or once your caramel is at a boil, cook for 4 minutes. This is what I do. Anyway, remove from heat; stir in ½ teaspoon baking soda.


Add caramel to popcorn, and stir with a large rubber spatula to coat. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet.


Bake for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with 1 teaspoon large flake salt. Let cool. Break into clusters.

VARIATIONS:
Tropical - Use 1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes + 1/4 cup diced canided ginger in place of the peanuts

Sicilian: Add 1 teaspoon of fresh orange zest to the caramel when you stir in the baking soda. Use 1 1/2 cups shelled, salted pistacios and 1/4 cup rosemary needles in place of the peanuts

Bourbon-Pecan: Add 1 tablespoon bourbon + 1/2 teaspoon salt to the caramel when you stir in the baking soda. Use 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans in place of the peanuts.