Read this first. It’s the backstory. You must know the backstory to proceed further.
Are we caught-up? Good.
As you now know, I’m a caramel corn flunky. After that last post, I decided to never try it again. Until last night. Last night I decided to try it again. I decided to incorporate all of your advice and try it again.
So first I went for firm corn. No microwave bag, this time. This time I popped my own kernals in a pot:
Firm corn: check.
Next, I pulled out Nancy Silverton’s recipe again. It sounded too good not to try twice. This time I thought I’d follow it to a T. (Tee? Tea? Where did that expression come from, anyway?) So I toasted 1 cup of hazelnuts which smelled marvelous:
Then I purchased a vanilla bean and cardamom to add to the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves I already had. It all went in the pot:
And then the caramelizing began. I remembered Jeremy’s advice: 330 degrees is the target temp. Nancy doesn’t give you a target temp. She just says cook for 4-5 minutes until it’s a dark caramel color. That doesn’t really help when the liquid is concealed by all those spices. So I waited for the temp to rise. I swirled, I tilted. It never got above 280 but it began smoking. That’s the other sign, says Nancy. When it smokes, add the popcorn and the hazelnuts.
Did they deflate? No. So I stirred. This was tricky–popcorn came flying out. The bottom popcorn was getting way coated and the stuff at the top was all dry. I crunched many kernals in the process. She says wait til the caramel becomes a deep mahagony color. But it began to smell like burning so I poured it out on my silpat:
Then I waited. Ok, I didn’t wait–I took a bite and burned my mouth.
Then I really waited. When I came back I was happy to see that it looked very good. I tasted it.
OK, not perfect—no. But better. Much better. Not as chalky, but not perfect caramel corn yet. Good enough, though, that I brought it to school today and everyone devoured it. Even the head of the department. “Mmmmm,” he said.
This flunky may be valedictorian yet.
4 thoughts on “Caramel Corn Redux”
to avoid chalky quality stir the syrup on med low so the sugar dissolves then increase heat and boil without stirring. disturbing caramel after it comes to a boil will cause crystallization.
if you really want to know where “to a T” comes from check phrase finder. it’s a lot more boring than you thought.
TAG, Sara Moulton (sp?) did a show not too long ago in which she made caramel. I can’t remember exactly what she did but I do remember her saying most of what she’s heard are old wives tales and that her simple method has never failed her. Maybe you can do a little search on foodtv.com for her advice?
Don’t feel bad-none of Nancy’s reciepes work in a home kitchen and she designed them that way.
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