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Monday, March 2, 2009

Short Cuts are Sometimes Best

For this past Valentine’s Day, Brian and I decided to give each other handmade gifts from Etsy. Etsy is an amazing website that has handmade items..anything you can imagine. We decided on a $50 limit and got to work. For Brian, I selected a necktie and a toffee/caramel dipped apple. For me, Brian selected a piece of pottery and gourmet caramel popcorn.

More about the popcorn. The popcorn was cinnamon roll popcorn. It was insanely good. So good that I had to hide it so no one else in the house could have some. Brian tasted it as well and also admitted it was one of the best confections he ever had. As good as it was, it was a little expensive. A one pound bag cost $20 which included the shipping. As I ate it over the next 2 weeks, I was trying to identify the ingredients. Popcorn. Well that’s a no brainer. There was white chocolate and there was cinnamon. Looking more carefully, it looked liked caramel corn as well. I went back to Etsy and read the description of the product. Popcorn, white chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter. I came up with a plan. I would make caramel popcorn and mix it with melted white chocolate and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Since it was a snow day today, I had the whole afternoon in front of me. Well, and 2 kids..but they occupied themselves. I popped the corn in my hot air popper. Once I measured out 10 cups I started on the caramel. Butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla. This was a messy job. The caramel turned out ok, but sort of had a burnt quality to it. Maybe I let it cook a bit too long. Once I had that poured over the popcorn, I had to let it cool down before I could start the chocolate component. I searched the internet for chocolate covered popcorn and the 3 top ones I found had the chocolate, butter and marshmallows. I made the chocolate, tossed it all together and came up with my version.

I tasted. Brian tasted. It was good. He thought it was a little sweeter than the version he bought me and not as crispy. The whole process took about 3 hours with the prep and waiting for the layers to cool. Maybe 3 hours of my time is worth $20 after all. Next time I’ll take the shortcut and head over to Etsy.

Here is my recipe if you are interested:

First the Caramel Corn:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Combine the following ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate pieces
18 large marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons water

Microwave the ingredients on HIGH in minute intervals, stirring several times, until chocolate and marshmallows are melted, and mixture is smooth. Place the caramel corn in a bowl; add the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly until well coated. Spread out in a shallow pan to cool.

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