From 7th – 9th grade I wanted to be a chef. We were receiving subscriptions to cooking magazines for the first time (Cooks Illustrated and Cooking Light) and I spent my weekends making cinnamon rolls and lemon blueberry pound cake. Erica was my parnter-in-crime: we went to different schools, but every time we were together we baked or cooked some sweet treat.
Sometime during those years my late grandmother Charlotte, who was an excellent seamstress, made me a white chef’s jacket and chef’s hat. I outgrew the small chef’s jacket, but luckily she had made a second chef’s outfit, which eventually found its way to me. For Halloween this year Sam and I decided to indulge our love of cooking and dress up as chefs. Sam is wearing one of the chef’s jackets my grandmother made and we are both wearing hats she made. You can’t see so well in this picture, but I am wearing official chef’s pants with pictures of kitchen utensils that I got from the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
We figured it would be a shame to wear such stylin’ chef’s outfits and not cook in them, so we made a batch of very sticky caramel corn from Marthastewart.com. The caramel corn wasn’t supposed to be as sticky as it was, but we didn’t have enough time to wait for the caramel mixture to reach the hard crack stage (290*f), so we stopped at the hard ball stage (250*f). That said, the recipe below has excellent flavor, though I’m not sure if waiting till the caramel reaches 290*f is realistic; we cooked our caramel for at least 40 minutes. Alternative recipes that I’ve seen simply have you bring the caramel mixture to a boil, pour it over the popcorn and bake in the oven for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes. I’m planning to try another batch of caramel corn this month using this method, so check back for updates!
Caramel and Fleur de Sel Popcorn
Makes 16 cups
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
- Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add popcorn, and cover. Cook, shaking pot frequently, until corn has finished popping. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook until mixture reaches 290. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
- Drizzle syrup evenly over popcorn, and toss to coat. Spread popcorn on prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Let cool completely, then separate popcorn into pieces. Popcorn can be stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days.
Recipe from Marth Stewart Weddings.