Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Salty & Sweet Emotion

Today is a weird mix of a day.  I've come down from the sugar and babies-in-costume rush of Halloween (though still nibbling away at the candy stash I've put into our freezer), and have started gearing up for a very early Thanksgiving dinner we're having with the in-laws this weekend.  Never have my two favourite holidays of the year come so close together!  I'm sorry to say although happy to be able to celebrate it with family, I will miss the anticipation that I normally have leading up to Thanksgiving day.

Today November 6th marks two pretty significant events for me as well.  Firstly, my daughter is 8 months today.  For some reason, this seems pretty significant.  8 months feels 'old' as she gets closer and closer to the first year mark and further away from the day she was born.  How did we get so far so fast?  And more importantly, am I destined to be a nostalgic puddle of emotion like this for the rest of my life with her?  Likely.  I wasn't really that far off to begin with.

Today is also the Presidential Election date in the US.  I hate the time difference even more between the UK and the US on election day.  Today means there will be far too much nervous eating, turning the tv on and then having to mute it.  Attempting to stay up far past my bedtime in attempt to reassure myself it won't be another 2000 election situation.

So with all of this post-Halloween-sugar-low-my-baby-is-old-please-oh-please-not-Mitt-ness going on I thought caramel corn was the perfect sort of solution.  Salty and sweet, crunchy and altogether fabulous food to eat by the (multiple) handful.  This recipe belongs to a brilliant chef and blogger named David Lebovitz, who is also probably hating the time difference today between the US and Paris where he currently resides.  David is a genius when it comes to combining salty and sweet.  He's won me over several times now, with recipes like this caramel corn that I will undoubtedly make again around Christmas/Chanukah as it is the perfect edible gift! 

Carmel Corn
Ever so slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cut light corn syrup
1/2 tsp maldon sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup salted nuts- I used peanuts
Heat oil along with stirred in popcorn kernels over a heavy and covered saucepan, shaking the pan frequently.  Once kernels start popping keep shaking until popping subsides for longer than 5 seconds.  You can always try to peak in, you don't want to waste your kernels but you don't want to burn your popcorn either!  Remove from heat and uncover.

Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil and lightly oil foil, or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup, and salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring for 8-10 minutes or  until syrup registers 300 degrees F on thermometer.  I don't have a candy thermometer so I used the time as a guide and my eye, making sure the caramel didn't get too dark.   Remove pot from heat.

Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir vanilla and baking soda into the syrup, then quickly stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture over baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible.  Let cool completely, then break into bits.  Attempt not to eat it all in one sitting.

This corn will probably last 2-3 days in little gift bags, or a few days longer in a sealed container.

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