Guess what Bob found in the garage? My popcorn popper!
Last fall, before the renovation from hell, we packed away most of the contents of the broken kitchen. Everything that wasn’t an everyday essential went into storage in the garage.
The air popcorn popper didn’t make the cut. Now, you know me. And I know you are yelling, “deb! You make speeches about kitchen unitaskers. Why on mother earth do you even own an air popper? That thing is such an anachronism, it’s for fat phobics, and that s**t tastes like cardboard.”
Hey! My brother gave me that popcorn popper for Chanukah! It was… winter break of my freshman year of college…so 1977. He was a junior in high school. I still remember how deeply touched I was by the gift. And that contraption was great in dorm rooms and apartments. I estimate that it has moved with me 25 times in 38 years. And it still works like a champ! And every time I use it, I think of Steven.
So, when Bob came across it in the garage last week, I knew I had to make caramel corn and share it with you here on the blog. I made a test batch and sent a huge bag with him for the 4 hour car ride to Boston. He texted me: Caramel Corn OMFG. He had about a cup left when he went into his meeting at Tufts and apparently the heretofore docile research nerds turned into a frenzied mob.
I know, it’s the week before Thanksgiving and all the other bloggers are making pumpkin pie and squashduckens. I will point you to all my great turkey day recipes in a minute. But think about it. You need something to munch while you are cooking! You need something really amazing to put out in bowls all over the house while your guests are waiting for the turkey to rest and sipping their drinks!
This caramel corn is out of control, seriously. I don’t usually like spicy-sweet snacks that much. And if you don’t, you can leave out the spices. But try this. The combination of crunchy corniness with the shattering, sweet sugary crust, the slight bitter of the caramel and the little bite from cayenne and chipotle, OHMYGOD! The cumin just gives it a little something…exotic, and the flavor of the pecans echoes the nuance of the spices. The combination is way beyond addictive.
But, I promised you Thanksgiving. I’ve gotcha covered for everything except the turkey. You can make an entire DebsPotsBlog Thanksgiving feast, from appetizers through dessert. My turkey technique is sort of like this one. And here are recipes for the rest of the meal:
Blue Cheese Stuffed Pepper Bombs
Roasted Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Puree
Genius-ish Umami Roasted Cauliflower
Sweet and Spicy Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
Umami Bomb Asparagus
Surprising Kale Salad
White Chocolate Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Black Sesame Loaded Oatmeal Cookies
Blackberry Apple Crumble
As for the Caramel Corn…you can make it this weekend and keep it in a covered container until Thursday. Who am I kidding? You’d better hide it in the garage!
Caramel Corn OMFG
This recipe is very loosely based on Susan Feniger’s Coconut Curry Caramel Corn.
If you don’t like pecans, you can substitute peanuts or you favorite nut.
Makes about 15 cups.
½ cup popcorn kernels, popped*
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups light brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups toasted pecans
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt
to taste: cayenne, chipotle powder, cumin (optional)
butter, oil, or cooking spray for greasing
*I use Bob’s Red Mill organic (no sponsorship). If your brother didn’t give you an air popper, you can make it on the stovetop. If you do it in the microwave, make sure you use a product with no flavorings.
Preheat the oven to 250° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Prepare a huge bowl by spraying or rubbing it with a bit of butter or oil. Put the popcorn and the pecans in the greased bowl.
Melt the butter over in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and corn syrup, and cook, stirring occasionally, over high heat for 7 minutes or until the mixture measures 225° on a candy thermometer. You will notice that the bubbles get bigger and the boiling appears slower.
Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the baking soda and spices. Working quickly, pour the hot caramel (be careful!) over the corn and pecans. Stir. Resist the temptation to taste; there is nothing that burns like hot caramel!
Distribute the caramel corn evenly over the two baking sheets and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Let cool and taste. Taste again. Call everyone in the house to come and have a nibble. Store what remains in covered containers. Happy Thanksgiving!
PS Consider donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Steven’s name. Our friend, Martin will be eating my Thanksgiving turkey in the hospital; thanks to the research supported by LLS, he is likely to win his battle with Leukemia!