Saturday, February 28, 2015

10. CARAMEL CORN

Tonight the Littles who are staying up at Libby’s house trekked down to our house to make popcorn.  In my mind you have two options when making popcorn: either smother it with …you guessed it, butter; or coat it with absolutely non-nutritious caramel coating, which is mostly made of…you guessed it, butter.  And sugar.

R.I.P. little red popcorn popper.
We pulled out the new red hot air popcorn popper, the one I bought to replace the old yellow one that kept burning out after the first batch.  I’ve used it a number of times with no problem, but sure enough, tonight, with three little helpers at the counter, it died mid pop, with only a handful of kernels having filled the measure of their creation.  I had to rush it out to the front porch because, even after it was unplugged, it was sparking and spurting.

Alas, we had to resort to the long forgotten methods of my childhood.  A large pot, a glug of vegetable oil on top of a nice steady flame.  We popped our Orville Redenbacher successfully the way our mothers did, on the stove top.  


After consulting with the three powers that be, whose median age was four and a half, we opted for the caramel version. This is not that brownish sticky kind of caramel that makes popcorn balls.  This is the white sugar kind you serve in a big bowl and grab by the handful, crunching unconsciously while you watch a show.  We made two giant bowls, one to go up to Libby’s with the kids and the movie, and one for our house, where tonight we host nine delightful teenage girls for a church “mission” sleepover.  Kate and I sat in the basement family room with the girls and our guitars, the popcorn and a batch of brownies on the table in the middle of us, the Young Women in their comfies curled up on the couches and snuggled into pillows on the floor.  I loved watching them interact.  I love hearing them giggle, and sing, and pray together.  There is something completely divine in a girl trying to make good choices, even if she’s not sure of them.  The desire is so beautiful to me.

This recipe is one that sits soundly in the brain and I never need to open the recipe book to make it.  I carry it with me always.  I imagine one day I might be in some memory care unit and the only cohesive string of words I will recall will be in the form of songs or recipes.  I guess that’s ok, considering my songs are my history, and for that matter, so are my recipes.

SHERRY’S CARAMEL CORN  
(Sherry Davis, my sister)

Pop a couple batches of popcorn, enough to fill a very large Tupperware bowl, or two.  I like less coating on mine, just enough to make it crunchy sweet, roughly 12 - 14 cups of popcorn. Salt the popcorn before you add caramel.

Caramel Coating: 

1 c butter (2 sticks)

1 c sugar 

2 T light corn syrup

2 T water 

Melt butter, add sugar and corn syrup and water.  Stir constantly over medium heat .  Low boil for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.  It should end up at a soft ball stage.  To test for soft ball stage, put a small spoonful of the caramel in a cup of cold water.  Try to gather it up with your fingers in the water.  If it will clump together in a soft “ball” of caramel, then it’s ready.  If not, cook a while longer and keep testing.  (If it cracks when you put it in the water then it’s a hard crack stage and you’ve over cooked it.)
Pour mixture gradually over popcorn, stirring as you pour so that the popcorn is evenly coated.  I find it best to stir it with a metal spatula or wide spoon.


Enjoy.

3 comments:

  1. YES!!!
    I so needed this recipe. Our fast Sunday is tomorrow so it will be our Sunday evening treat and I can't wait. I LOVE this stuff!! But not nearly as much as I love YOU!! Thanks seestor!!

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  2. For the Real Caramel lovers out there, the original recipe calls for only 6 cups popped corn (minus the old maids), plus a cup or more of nuts and seeds. Your choice. I generally use cashews, pecans, slivered almonds, and sunflower seeds. Sometimes Macadamias if they are on hand. Whatever you choose, it's the Caramel that makes it. Best recipe ever. Yummers!

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