To Brighten Your Fall

September 7, 2010

We have entered fall here. Glorious, wonderful, robust, rustling Fall!

When it comes to autumn, its all or nothing for me. Summer is so lazy and slow and steamy and long, that when fall finally shows it’s face, I celebrate it with as much pomp as I can muster, so it will be sure to stick around.

For instance: last week I made this year’s first batch of chili, then, a few nights later, I simmered this year’s first pot of stock, then this weekend I picked up this year’s first butternut squash from the grocery store, and, finally, I made this year’s first bunch of caramel corn. Just one of these events alone should be proof enough that fall has arrived, but all four?  Yes, the fall has indeed arrived and I am welcoming it with open arms.

Here is the caramel corn recipe. It’s probably the same one your grandma or your great Aunt Edith made every fall when you were a little tyke. Nothing new-fangled or fantastic, just regular, old, delicious caramel corn. If you are more reluctant than I am at welcoming the fall, I hope this is a nudge of fall inspiration for you!

Caramel Corn

Yield: 10 cups

1 package plain microwave popcorn (or 1/2 cup stove top popping corn)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 250° F

Get your ingredients ready and in place. Any time you are dealing with caramel, its important to have everything in place and ready to go, because once the train leaves the station, it picks up speed and doesn’t slow down for you to get things in order.

Line a rimmed baking-sheet with parchment or a silpat liner if you have one. Butter or mist with cooking spray a large bowl for mixing the caramel and popcorn.

Pop the popcorn in the microwave according to the package’s instructions, or on the stove top if using loose popping corn. Once it has popped, be sure to pick out every “dud” kernel (the ones that didn’t pop), no one wants to chomp down on a tooth-cracking kernel! Dump the popped popcorn into the prepared bowl. If you popped the corn on the stove top, be sure to season with salt to taste.

In a 1-2 quart sauce pan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Whisk often until the mixture reads 250° F on a candy thermometer (about 3-4 minutes).

Once it has reached the desired temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla well. The caramel will begin to foam slightly. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and gently fold together using a rubber spatula. Be sure the caramel is evenly distributed over the popcorn.

Now, stir in the peanuts, and transfer the gooey caramel corn to your prepared lined baking-sheet.

Pop the sheet pan into the oven and cook for 1 hour, stirring/turning the caramel corn every 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cool for 10-15 minutes, gently break up, and eat!

Happy Fall everyone!


3 Responses to “To Brighten Your Fall”

  1. Christy said

    hey Rachel—I’ve really enjoyed your frequent posting!

    question for you: do you go to the store every day? or are you more of a weekly-planner type of person? I’d love to find the perfect combination of efficiency & spontaneity when it comes to meals & food.

    • Rachel Ward said

      Thanks, Christy! It has been fun to challenge myself to post more often.
      Hmm, about your question. This is something I don’t quite have figured out. I am not terribly efficient. :)
      Aaron and I agree that our budget is healthier when we plan our meals out and go to the store once a week, but I often get inspired midweek and want to run to the store for just a few ingredients.
      If you have any pointers, I am sure Aaron would love for you to send ’em this way!

  2. […] I need intervention. This caramel habit isn’t pretty. If there were a few more mouths to feed in this house, it might not be so bad. […]

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