Monday, December 16, 2013

Snickers Caramel Corn

One of the most special aspects of the holidays is that they conjure up the craving of very specific foods that are really only allowed this time of year. Well, I guess not technically but can you really imagine eating peppermint bark in the middle of July? By restricting certain foods to once-a-year status, it seems to make them more special and I enjoy it all the more when it I know that its only around for a short while. So bring on the eggnog, the pannetone, the peppermint chocolate and, my favorite, caramel corn.


For me, caramel corn is one of those treats that I could “accidentally” eat a whole batch without getting sick of it (but probably getting literally sick along the way). With that said, I’ve actually never made caramel corn myself until about a month ago. It way overshadows the other stuff that I used to find so addicting and found it to be much easier than I could have imagined…though maybe this isn’t a good thing. My curiosity for making my own began with this recipe for dark and stormy caramel corn over at Lottie andDoof. I made the exact version and it was delectable. It has a thin crispy shell of caramel coating with just the right bit of saltiness and a good kick from the lime and ginger. A then realized that by taking the base recipe for the corn (without the additional flavorings) I could adapt caramel corn to any combination of flavors that I wanted. Oh, the possibilities!


So, in honor of today being National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, I give you Snickers Caramel Corn. It’s peanut, it’s chocolate, it’s caramel…how much better could things get? I also topped it with a sprinkling of Maldon Sea salt for that perfect sweet and salty contrast. It literally tastes like a super fudgy and crunchy Snickers bar in Popcorn form. Make this caramel corn for all of your friends this Christmas and you are sure to start a new tradition that keeps everyone waiting eagerly all year long for more. Merry Christmas everyone!


Snickers Caramel Corn
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 12 cups

Ingredients
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cups coarsely chopped lightly salted peanuts
12 cups plain popped popcorn (using about ½ cup of kernels popped according to package instructions)
4 oz. dark chocolate, melted (I used 70% cacao scharffen berger)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Also get all of your ingredients measured out and ready because the process goes a little quickly.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt over medium-high heat. Stir with a rubber spatula until everything is incorporated. Once the mixture starts boiling, stop stirring. If the caramel begins to turn brown in the center of the pot before the edges, however, it is ok to gently swirl the pot itself to evenly distribute the mixture. Let the caramel continue to boil until is reaches a nice amber color overall and lets off a caramel smell.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the baking soda. Add in the vanilla (stand back, it will sputter) and keep whisking until smooth.  Dump in the peanuts and the popcorn and fold it into the caramel using a rubber spatula, coating the popcorn evenly. Spread the popcorn out onto the sheet pan and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take the pan out about every 5 minutes and give everything a bit of a stir to ensure that it is all well coated with the caramel.

While the corn is cooking, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove the popcorn from the oven and drizzle the melted chocolate overtop. Sprinkle a bit of Maldon sea salt on the chocolate. Set aside until the popcorn is cool and the chocolate is solid (a cold garage is a good place to do this). Once completely cool, break into bite-size pieces and watch it disappear.  

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