Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Caramel Popcorn

Day 4 in my week long challenge! Whew, and can I say I am feelin' pretty good now because I have 95% of all my Christmas baking done, so it's smooth sailing from here on! Just in time too, because I'd love a day or two of relaxation before the Christmas craziness starts.

I actually made this caramel popcorn about a week ago, to bring to a Christmas party for my fellow MSW classmates. It's a very adaptable recipe- you can really throw anything in it to make the holiday or event you're going for. I added some red and green mini m&ms to give it a more Christmasy feel. This is definitely a sweet and addictive treat. Betcha can't eat just one. ;)

P.S. If you're wondering where the 'healthy eats' part of my blog is lately... it's non-existent. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that my meals outside of dessert have been atrocious lately. The past 2 days I had a can of soup for lunch. It was a low point. My only excuse is that the last week I've been very busy with baking, and the couple weeks prior I was absolutely swamped with final assignments for school, so spending time on food was my last priority. I hope to get back on track in the new year!

1 cup unpopped corn kernels
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
mini Christmas m&ms

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a popcorn maker, pop your kernels as directed. Be mindful of using 'gourmet' kernels; apparently they pop larger than other kernels and therefore amount to more. I ignored this fact despite reading it beforehand in the instructions, and because my popcorn popper has a lid on it and the popcorn pops upwards... well let's just say Tucker got a good few treats on the floor that day. Place kernels in a large bowl, and make sure to pick out any unpopped kernels. You'll have to stir the popcorn, so you may need to use 2 bowls (I had to because I had so much popcorn).

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Heat until melted and begins to boil. Once boiling, pour in sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously for 5 minutes, to prevent burning. Take this step seriously; again I didn't because apparently I thought I knew everything, and yes, you guessed it, I had to start all over again when I noticed bits of brown floating around.

Remove from heat and pour directly over popcorn, stirring until coated evenly. Stir in desired amount of m&ms. I did so before baking because I wanted them to stick to the popcorn; however, be aware that they do melt a little bit.

Spread popcorn evenly on baking sheets, and place in preheated oven to bake for 45-50 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes to cook evenly.

Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then break into pieces and let cool completely.

Source: Cookies and Cups
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