I didn’t want to give the “guy” teachers Cake in a Jar. I thought they should get something a little less frilly. Thus, this popcorn! Eli was already mortified that he had to hand deliver goodies to his “middle school” teachers so why torture him anymore than I had to. He said to me, as he was leaving the house that morning, “mom, I am not in elementary school anymore”. Yeah, so, what is that supposed to mean? Am I hovering?
Anyway, I was reading one of my new favorite blog gals, Food Woolf (found her when I participated in the bake sale last month) and she posted about another one of my favorite gals; Nancy Silverton’s spiced caramel popcorn. The light bulb went off and I realized that this could be the perfect token of our “appreciation” for those few “guy” teachers.
The original recipe is from Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book (Brooke a.k.a. Food Woolf – created this recipe, inspired by Nancy’s original )and since I love most things Nancy Silverton, I wanted to give it a try. My friend, Vic (we go way back to middle school) and I spent a long overdue day together last Sunday and it was her desire to hang in the kitchen with me. As much as I wanted to bake and create, I didn’t want our day together to be just about cooking and dishes. The popcorn gave us the best of both worlds.
Eli popped the corn while she and I made the caramel sauce. It was so great having another pair of capable hands by my side. While I was doing the finishing touches on the caramel sauce, Vic started our lunch. She is one heck of a chopper! I was impressed. After we tossed the popcorn and spread it out on silpat pads, she and I sat down to a nice, quiet lunch, chatting, reminiscing, and laughing.
Spiced Caramel Corn
1 cup of almonds, toasted and loosely chopped
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/3 cup un-popped popcorn
1/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 Tbls. brown rice syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cardamon, ground
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
13 tsp. Chinese allspice
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
to pop the corn:
• in a medium sized pot, heat the oil over high heat with one kernel. when the pops, add the un-popped corn and cover with a lid ( I took a short cut here. I popped in the air popper. big mistake. I think it changed the texture of the final product. I wouldn’t suggest the air popper). Once the corn begins to pop, shake consistently until you don’t hear any more popping. remove from heat.
to make the caramel
• off heat, combine water, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla extract and rice syrup in a large, deep pot, stir together. Once blended, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil without stirring it. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, remove any un-dissolved sugar from the side of the pan.
• continue cooking over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Tilt pan and swirl to prevent burning. Wait for this turn a caramel color and starts to smoke. Add the popcorn and the nuts, stir until completely coated, moving the skillet on and off heat. Cook to a deep brown.
• pour onto your prepared cookie sheet (lined with silpat) and spread out evenly. let cool completely before tasting!
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com