Sunday, November 24, 2013

Caramel Popcorn

I suppose I should feel guilty but I didn't intentionally lure one of my closest friends by way of caramel sauce to a deadly sin. My particular dalliance with this intoxicating taste sensation started in my childhood at the feet of my mother, near the largest Tupperware bowl filled with caramel popcorn every Christmas...laughing at the new white fuzz ball of a puppy pulling a popcorn bowl across the floor....with buttered hands shaping the warm, velvety confection into balls. Doing as my mother had done, I tutored my own children in the craft. They took the experience to new literary heights with the creation of a simple rhyme to help them remember the ingredients of the basic recipe, the words to which went: "1/2 Cup, Cup, Cup, Can, Squirt ...I believe there was even a dance that went with it to a Latin Calypso beat. 

This recipe not only creates the caramel for popcorn, but is the basis for a sauce for ice cream and cake, and for caramel toffee or pecan turtles. But back to my friend; she recognized in it other, more deadly possibilities. Featured as the sauce for a moist gingerbread cake for refreshments for a theatrical production she took home a pitcher of leftover sauce. Then in a frenzy of creativity, boredom or desperation (perhaps we will never know exactly what drove her to this) she found that the caramel sauce served equally well as a beverage, which did indeed eliminate the nuisance of utensils or cake and ice cream as a conduit. To Trina, I apologize. I should have applied a warning label, "May be injurious to your health if consumed in large quantities." But oh, what a way to go! Whether served as loose unformed clumps or as balls the popcorn purrs to this soft, creamy and intoxicating caramel...as did Trina.



Ruthie's Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white karo syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
(for salted caramel, add 1/2 tsp. coarse salt or fleur de sel)
10 cups popped corn

-In a heavy bottomed, large saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in karo syrup, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk.  Over medium-high heat, stir ingredients until sugar is melted and mixture is smooth.  Continue stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil.  Lower heat slightly to medium and continue cooking and stirring until sauce reaches 232 degrees on a candy thermometer, just shy of soft-ball stage (it will take 10 - 12 minutes at a boil to reach this stage.).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt if used.

-Pour caramel sauce over the popped corn in a large bowl.  Stir until the sauce is well distributed.  Let the caramel corn sit for 5 minutes then pour out onto a sheet of waxed paper.  Break clumps apart or with buttered hands, take a baseball size portion of caramel corn and press into a firm, solid ball.  Set on paper and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Place each popcorn ball in a sandwich bag or wrap each in a square of waxed paper.  Tie packaged balls with ribbon.

-Makes about 20 popcorn balls.

***For sauce for ice cream or for fondue, cook sauce until
      slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
***For caramel candies, cook sauce to 246 degrees, firm
      ball stage.  Stir in nuts and pour into buttered 9x13 inch
      pan.  Allow to set at least 8 hours.  Cut into 1 inch squares
      and wrap each in square of waxed paper.

2 comments:

  1. Nice one! Will use the sauce to make candy! Can't wait to try it out!

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  2. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by Egotists! Even though I probably shouldn't have, I tried your recipe, too. I like it very well indeed. I appreciate your end notes. People don't have a lot of cooking know how, as a rule, and it is very helpful to add little details that may seem obvious to you and me, but actually are not intuitive. Nice job!

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