Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homemade Caramel Corn (two ways!) + Halloween Trail Mix


A few things:

1. Caramel corn is ridiculously easy to make in the privacy of your own kitchen. Without annnyone around to judge you when you can't. stop. eating it. Good or bad thing? You decide.

2. Confession: I burnt my first batch of caramel. I actually didn't realize this until I tasted the caramel corn every time I opened the oven to stir it after it was done. But for some reason I still couldn't stop eating it. I tasted piece after piece after piece "just to see if it was really burnt."


3. You probably shouldn't respond to emails on your iPhone while making caramel.

4. I'm not dressing up for Halloween. Mostly because I just don't like dressing up, but also because I'm still scarred by the disappointment I experienced two years ago when I bought a several bags of candy, dressed up as a bumblebee, and didn't even get one trick-or-treater. It was devastating.

5. Stephen and I are much too practical to buy a costume for Charlie. But we decided that if we were going to, we'd definitely dress him up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And when I say that "Stephen and I" are much too practical, I'm sure you know that I actually just mean Stephen is.


6. If you're one of my coworkers, please disregard everything I said in #2. I would never give you burnt caramel corn and try to disguise it by mixing it in with un-burnt caramel corn, chocolate drizzled pretzels, and Halloween candy. Never.

7. Have you heard about this and this and this? Just stop it. Halloween is weird enough as it is.

Traditional Caramel Corn
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

15 cups popped popcorn
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

1. Place the popcorn in a large bowl (at least 6 quarts). Preheat the oven to 200°F and line a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the molasses, brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: Do not attempt to answer emails during this step.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda; the mixture should become foamy. Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and stir until all of the popcorn is coated.

4. Transfer the caramel corn to the sheet pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Maple-Toffee Popcorn
Adapted from Babble

10 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

1. Place the popcorn in a large bowl (at least 6 quarts). Preheat the oven to 200°F and line a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for four minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda; the mixture should become foamy. Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and stir until all of the popcorn is coated.

4. Transfer the caramel corn to the sheet pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Halloween Trail Mix

20 cups caramel corn
12 cups chocolate-drizzled pretzels (see instructions below)
2 cups Reese's Pieces
2 cups candy corn

To serve as a party snack, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. As Ina would say... how easy is that?

For individual treat bags, assemble as follows:

  • Bottom Layer: 2 tablespoons Reese's Pieces + 2 tablespoons candy corn. (To make this easier, I used a 1/4 cup measure filled halfway with Reese's Pieces and halfway with candy corn)
  • Middle Layer: 1 & 1/2 cups caramel corn (I used a mixture of both caramel corn recipes in each treat bag)
  • Top Layer: 1 cup (about 8) chocolate-drizzled pretzels
Tie each treat bag with an orange, black, or purple ribbon. Use treat bags as currency to buy the affection of your coworkers, neighbors, and friends!

Makes about 12 treat bags.


Chocolate-Drizzled Pretzels

12 cups pretzels
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Working 4 cups at a time, arrange the pretzels in an even layer on a piece of parchment paper.

2. Melt the chocolate chips by heating them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Transfer the melted chocolate to a pastry bag or a gallon-size plastic storage bag.

3. Cut about 1/4" off the end of the filled pastry bag. The hole should only be big enough to comfortably squeeze the chocolate through. Always err on the side of cutting the hole too small; you can always make it bigger!

4. Drizzle the chocolate over the pretzels by gently squeezing the pastry bag and making a zig-zag pattern. Immediately top with Halloween sprinkles.

5. Allow the chocolate to set for 2-3 hours. To ensure that the pretzels don't stick together and the chocolate doesn't smudge, place the pretzels in the freezer for about 10 minutes before assembling the treat bags.

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2 comments:

  1. You're Halloween treats look great! I love the addition of molasses to the caramel corn! Happy Baking! ~Mel @ KAF

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  2. Thanks Melanie! I'm honored that you visited my blog... I love King Arthur Flour!! :)

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