Tag Archive for baking

Salted Caramel PopCorn

If there’s recipes I’m looking for this time of the year, they’re ones that make good presents.

I have a yearly tradition with my friend, Michelle. For the last, oh, ten or so years, we get together for an entire Saturday or Sunday, and bake Christmas cookies. These cookies then become the basis of much of my holiday giving. I divide them up into colorful Christmas-themed cellophane bags, attach some curly ribbon, and hand them out to Michael’s teachers, my friends, neighbors, or anyone that invites me over to their house.

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I figure, in this day of pre-packaged everything and no time, that likely, most folks don’t have the time or the resources to bake scratch cookies. So I think it makes a good gift.

Every year, I always try out some other things as well, usually related to candy: toffee, sponge toffee or peanut brittle (which usually goes to my dad).

I remember making caramel corn as a child in Newfoundland, but I haven’t in a really long time. I didn’t remember it being that hard, and sure enough, it’s not a very complicated recipe. It does take a little love, though, hence the reason it makes a good gift.

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Salted Caramel PopCorn

  • 1/3-1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn = 8 cups of  popped popcorn (I used my hot air popper, but whatever method works best for you)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt plus more good-quality sea-salt for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Method:

  • Pop the popcorn and put it in the largest bowl you have available. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and butter two large cookie sheets.
  • In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the sugar and the corn syrup, and stir it until the sugars melt into the butter.
  • Turn up the heat a little, you’re making a caramel, so you want it to be bubbly for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla, salt, and finally the baking soda. The baking soda will react with the caramel, and bubble up quite violently, so be careful!

 

  • Working quickly, pour the caramel over the popcorn, and stir it all in, coating as much popcorn as you can. The caramel will harden quickly, so you might not get everything coated, but that’s okay.
  • Divide the popcorn in half, and put half on each cookie sheet, spreading it out in a single layer. Put it in the oven.
  • Set a timer, and every 5 minutes for 20 minutes, turn  and stir the popcorn. The heat from the oven will keep the caramel soft and pliable, so you’ll be able to coat the popcorn more and more each time.
  • While your popcorn is baking, take a large piece of aluminum foil and spread it out on your countertop. After the 20 minutes are up, take the popcorn out and pour it directly into the middle of the tin foil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Wrap it all up so that as much as possible, the popcorn is contained inside the foil. Leave it to cool.
  • When cool, bash it up to break up the chunks. Store in an airtight container, or put into pretty bags to gift. What am I saying?? Good luck with that. It’s delicious. It’ll never make it out of your house alive!

For a slightly healthier alternative, check out From French Fries to Flax Seed’s All Natural Popcorn Balls.

Macaron-Making Workshop at Simply French Cafe

You may have guessed that I’m kind of obsessed with macarons right now. It’s in my nature to obsess about kinds of food. I make it and make it until I get happy with it, then I move on to conquer something else.

So, a couple months back, I bought a Social Shopper workshop at Simply French Cafe in Kits to learn how to make macarons. Monday night Jen and I attended, and the main thing I learned was a deeper appreciation for people who make these delicate fantasies.

The subtitle of this blog is Culinary Experimentation. That should be a hint to you that I’m not exactly Ms. Precise when I’m following recipes. Maybe the first time I’ll follow it to the letter, but then the tinkering begins, until I feel like I get it to how I want it to be.

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You can’t do that with macarons. The entire process was complex, precise and finnicky. First of all, you need a scale to measure out all the ingredients to the gram (I only own measuring cups). Things have to be specific temperatures, and need to be beaten for exact amounts of time. Except for when it’s humid or sunny or snowing. Then all bets are off. Then you have to adjust beating/drying/baking/cooling times.

Making the cookies themselves was also a interesting study in dichotomies. There were times when you really needed to be firm with the batter, but there were other times when you had to be incredibly gentle with it.

I know how to make them, now. But will I ever? Probably not. Especially seeing as Soirette is less than a block from where I live.

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