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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

100th Post! Holiday Treats: Caramel Corn

This is my 100th post! I started this blog at the end of August, not sure what I was going to do with it. I didn't know what I would talk about since my daily life would be pretty boring to most people... it pretty much goes, wake up, drive to work, sit in my office, drive home, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed... yeah a whole lot of readers would have stuck around. I didn't really think I would stick with it and I didn't have a clue who would read it. Then I decided to start posting recipes and it became fun for me to experiment more in the kitchen and make new recipes to share. Going back through the archives, I realize that I have already learned a lot although I still feel like I don't know much about food blogging. My pictures aren't very good yet but they have improved drastically from the beginning. I decided to only post 1 recipe per post to make searching easier, etc. Hopefully by next week, I'll also have figured out some of my layout problems and will have a new header.

So for my 100th post, here's another holiday treat -- although I definitely recommend making this more often than just the holidays. This caramel corn is really easy and I'm a bit of a popcorn snob though so I have to tell you, if your idea of popcorn is putting a bag in the microwave, you are absolutely missing out. Give yourself an extra 3 minutes and you can make much better popcorn. I grew up eating stove top popped popcorn made from kernels we used to get from a farmer by the 5 gallon bucket. Or movie-theater like popcorn made in one of those big popcorn poppers at my grandparents house, minus that greasy butter. When I went to college and had to suffer through microwave I went through withdrawals... so instead of a prohibited hotplate or toaster that most college kids had, I got a StirCrazy. Until my crazy roommate stole it. But anyway, the next version of the StirCrazy eventually died and about this time last year, I got a WhirleyPop. Best.Invention.Ever. It is easy, it's cheap, you don't have to plug it in, it makes delicious popcorn without all the chemicals and artificial crap, and you can take it all apart and wash it. If you think microwave popcorn is good, do yourself a favor, buy one. But anyway, I'm way off topic...

Homemade Caramel Corn
Recipe from Annie's Eats

1 cup unpopped popcorn
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Pop popcorn (if you have to, you can make a couple of bags of natural microwave) by preferred method and transfer to 2 large bowls.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Increase heat to medium-high, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils.

Once it boils, stop stirring and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add baking soda and vanilla and stir to combine. Be careful, the mixture will foam up.

Immediately pour the mixture evenly over the popcorn. Toss popcorn gently using 2 wooden spoons until well mixed. Pour the coated mixture onto prepared baking sheets and spread out as much as possible.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, tossing with wooden spoons every 15 minutes. The caramel corn should be crisp, if its not, continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so. Cool for approximately 1 hour before packaging. Package in airtight containers to save for later use.

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