Sunday, March 28, 2010

Caramel-Peanut Popcorn


The past two Saturday evenings, Mike and I have made the long trek from Manhattan to Harrison, NJ to watch the opening two games of the New York Red Bulls.

The MLS team is playing in their very own, brand new soccer arena.

© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Last weekend was lovely - a 75 degree spring day melted into a beautiful, warm evening.  No winter jacket, or any jacket for that matter, was required.

But yesterday, the temperature peaked at 43 degrees.  The evening promised to be a chilly one and I dreaded having to pull all of my winter gear out of the closet, the same gear I had so blissfully tucked away last weekend.

So, in order to make the cold, bundled-up night ahead just a bit more manageable, I decided to make a batch of caramel-peanut popcorn to take along for the game.

I detest the dry, stale, fake-butter popcorn at sporting events.  Even more, I think the $4 price tag for such popcorn is ridiculous.

Plus, this gave me the opportunity to whip up something Mike could potentially think was delicious.

And, in my mind, when I make something that makes Mike say, "Wow, honey, that's amazing!", I like to believe he is secretly thinking how he could never, ever possibly find someone to take my place.

In the ultra competitive dating market of Manhattan, I find it necessary to ensure I am not replaceable.  And I am not above using my sweet creations to achieve that status.  Sad but true.

Anywho, let's get started on that popcorn!

First, we need to make the popcorn.  For this, you could just pop your favorite bag of microwaveable popcorn, but I far prefer taking a few extra minutes to make popcorn the old-fashion way.

Kernels and oil on the stove top over medium-high heat.  Easy peasy.


When the kernels start popping, be sure to shake the pan occasionally.  This will ensure the popcorn on the bottom does not burn.

Remove the popcorn from the heat when you count more than 2 seconds between popping kernels.  Mum's rule of thumb has yet to let me down.

Transfer the popcorn to a buttered bowl.  Try not to eat all of the hot, freshly-popped popcorn.  Easier said than done.

DSC_0022© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Now it's time to prepare the caramel-peanut mixture.  Brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, water and salt into a saucepan and onto medium heat.

DSC_0025© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

I stir everything together before it starts to boil, just so everything is evenly distributed.

When all ingredients are melted and incorporated, I attach my candy thermometer and stop stirring.

DSC_0044 © Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

While the caramel starts doing its thing, I measure out the vanilla, baking soda and peanuts.  I make sure everything, including the popcorn is within arms-reach, which is surprisingly, not difficult in my kitchen.

When the caramel reaches 250 degrees, remove from the heat.  Carefully stir in the vanilla and baking soda.

DSC_0053 © Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Quickly stir the peanuts into the caramel.  Pour the caramel-peanut mixture over the popcorn.  Stir popcorn to evenly distribute the caramel and peanuts.

DSC_0056 © Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Allow popcorn to cool to room temperature.  Store in airtight container.

DSC_0058 © Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Caramel-Peanut Popcorn

from Allison M. Veinote
makes 2 quarts

This is a delicious, homemade version of the much-loved Cracker Jacks.  Whip up your own batch to take to sporting events or just when you are craving a sweet-salty treat.  If you do not have grapeseed oil for making the popcorn, simply use canola oil.

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Pinch table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup peanuts

Preparation Instructions
For the Popcorn
Combine popcorn kernels and oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.

As the kernels begin to pop, shake the pan frequently.

When popping has slowed, remove from heat.  Pour popcorn in large, buttered mixing bowl.

For the Caramel-Peanut Mixture
Measure brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, water and salt into a saucepan.  Place over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees.

When caramel reaches 250 degrees, remove from heat.  Carefully stir in vanilla extract and baking soda. Quickly stir in peanuts.

Pour caramel-peanut mixture over popcorn.  Stir quickly to evenly coat the popcorn.

Allow to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.  Store in airtight container.

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