Monday, October 29, 2012

Caramel Corn for Halloween

When I was little, my Grandma Stejer made caramel corn for us.  It was one of my favorite treats.  I always looked forward the the October visit she would make to us because I knew the snacks would improve greatly (sorry mom).

When I went to college, one of my jobs was working in a record store in a mall.  One of the vendors just a few doors down was a caramel corn seller.  I was a frequent patron, if not once each day I worked, sometimes twice (those shifts were long)!  Needless to say most of my "freshman 15" didn't come from the cafeteria food.

I try not to each as much caramel corn these days.  But something about October and the ever-approaching holiday fest starting with Halloween, makes me crave that sticky, crunchy, sweet, nutty treat.  I use an air-popper to pop my corn, by saving a few calories here, I believe I can justify eating more caramel corn later. I'm making extra for October's Girl's night out dinner and I'll take treat bags to work this year, along with giving some to the boys across the street.  The season of eating has begun.

Caramel Corn
adapted from Picture Perfect Meals cookbook, Christmas Cookies and Confections 

unsalted butter for the pan
12 cups popped popcorn
2 cups mixed salted nuts
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 250º F.  Generously butter a heavy rimmed baking sheet and set aside.  Place the popped corn  in a large bowl.  In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine he sugar, corn syrup, butter and molasses. Whisk over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and butter melts. Bring to a boil over  medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, baking soda, and salt.  Pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn, pour the mixed nuts over the sugar syrup and stir to evenly distribute the sugar mixture and nuts.  Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and break up any large clumps.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I use my roasting pan for this.  I put the popped popcorn in the buttered pan, add the sugar syrup and nuts, stir in the pan and pop it in the oven.

I added Reeses Pieces after the corn was cool.  It added a nice Halloween touch with the colors.

October 29, 2012     Daylight  8 hours, 6 minutes, 18 seconds     Temp  17º F & snowing!

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