Saturday, 1 January 2011

Pretty Amazing Popcorn

A couple of weeks ago Nigella served up some celery in a vase. It was such a cute idea I temporarily forgot that I don't like celery and wanted to nick her idea. Priya was a little more cynical and said that she "was merely making space to 'chow down'", bit harsh perhaps, but then again, she (Nigella) did take a wok to bed in an episode the week before....!

I did use the vase idea though (and I stole some style from David this time) who served us up flavoured popcorn in a vase at his last dinner party.

To accompany the New Years Eve cocktails at my house yesterday we had:-

Caramel Corn with Salted Peanuts
Adapted from DamGoodSweet, by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel

A few notes to help you along:

Be sure to have a whisk and a rubber spatula close at hand. You’ll need them both on short notice.
Before you begin cooking the caramel, measure out the baking soda and the vanilla, and chop the peanuts. You won’t have time to do it later.
Do not try to make this recipe without a candy thermometer.
You will need:

1 pack of salted, butter popcorn (for microwave) - if you burn it, even slightly, chuck it and start again; this is too much effort to risk bodging it up with burnt popcorn!

1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (85g)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. bicarb
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 250°F (120 degrees Celsius).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pop the popcorn according to the package instructions. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, golden syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.

(I gave it 30-40 minutes - more than enough to get the caramel all over the popcorn!)

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (or thereabouts). did look very nice in that vase I think.
I've also made this popcorn several times to give away as presents (I had to start getting some use out of buying a candy thermometer!)

Oops, made a bit too much to fit it all in the mason jar...

I was also going to make a curry flavoured popcorn and put it into another vase as an alternative savoury option but I ran out of time (and bought crisps).
And I was also going to share the amazing cocktail recipes that came from Annabel and my sister but I cannot find the enthusiasm for discussing them with the thumping head that I am left with - (they were worth it, but the recipes will have to keep for another time).

Happy New Year!

J :)

P.S. Annabel got these Matryoshka (Russian dolls) that are, ingeniously measuring cups for cooking from her Secret Santa (Cyril) and I was so impressed I got myself some.

The heads are 1, 2/3, 1/3 cup
and the bottoms are 3/4, 1/2,1/4 cup
So clever!

And they've already been put to good use... with the soft brown sugar for the popcorn! Brilliant!

Fantastic piece of design, I'm sure you'll agree...

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