Sunday, December 20, 2009

Popcorn, a la Christmas

It feels that at this time of year, everyone is sharing snacks and recipes. There are blogs with recipes swaps. Even the female anesthesia residents had a cookie-recipe sharing party.

And I really want to participate. I do. But I don't really like to cook (I hope this blog hasn't given you any delusions otherwise.)

And I don't feel that sharing recipes I either make up (with varying success) and can never replicate, or those that come on the side of a Campbell's soup can or the back of a bag of chocolate chips just don't really work (or count).

But to get in the spirit of sharing, and cooking, I will share the recipe to a snack that I make every Christmas.

This recipe actually isn't mine. My very good friend in medical school, who is now doing her residency in California, shared it with me. But I don't always share that detail when people are telling me how much they like this.

Caramel Popcorn:
8 cups popped popcorn (salted)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (dark corn syrup gives a richer flavor, but it tastes just as nice with light corn syrup.)

You can also add 1/2 cup peanuts, but we never do.

Heat oven to 350.
Melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil while stirring nearly constantly. You seriously do not want this to boil over. It is very hard to clean up off the top of the stove. Boil until the mixture starts to thicken. I'm sure there is some temperature that this mixture should reach, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. I just boil it until it gets just a little bit thicker and turns from clear to caramelly color.

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn (in a very large bowl) and stir to coat evenly. If you want peanuts, be my guest and add them now. Spread on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Check halfway through and stir ensure even cooking. Don't let it burn. This will result in frustration on your part and disappointment on your childrens' part.

Remove from over, place in large (heat proof) bowl and let cool.

We always double or triple this recipe. Because it is that good.

If you want to make caramel popcorn balls, let the caramel mixture cook longer. This will make it thicker. Pour over popcorn and let cool just a little. Coat your hands with just a little bit of Pam (or other baking spray. Although I'm sure butter or oil would work fine too.) Shape into balls. Let cool completely. Do not put the popcorn balls in the oven. The result is not good. Just let them cool on the counter.

There will be caramel popcorn in our house to munch on while watching Mickey's Christmas Carol and another bag in the boy's stocking, to enjoy Christmas morning and to buy us a little more sleep.