Friday, April 16, 2010

35. Caramel Popcorn (Microwave) - Young Again

With no money for big vacations, my parents would drag us around to museums, galleries, parks and zoos, the arboretum, and any number of events within a few hours drive of our home. Some of the outings were more work than fun, but one that we always loved was the summer drives to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We would walk around in the warm summertime weather and enjoy the lake view. Lake Geneva bustled with boaters, sun bathers, tourists and locals - it was always a trip I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Lake Geneva trip was not complete unless we stopped at the caramel-corn store on the main drag. The smell of the popcorn and sweet caramel surrounded the whole front of the building and spilled out onto the street and pulled us inside. There was only one kind of caramel corn to purchase and my dad would buy each of us our own warm bagful.

Years later, I was a hard-working college student and had a job at a campus snack bar. I always volunteered to make the caramel corn  - even though it was hot, sticky work and my arms sometimes  sustained burns, it did not matter -  I was able to eat as much caramel corn as I wanted!

Recently, a friend shared a delicious microwave, caramel corn recipe. It tastes very similar to the treat we bought on our trips to Lake Geneva. Maybe I will make a batch and go out to sit by a different lake, close my eyes and make believe I am young again!

**How-to-pop popcorn directions at the end of the recipe.

Caramel Popcorn - Microwave
(Recipe from Rae E.)

Combine in a saucepan:
1 C brown sugar
1 C butter
1/3 C Karo syrup - light
 1 tsp salt
*Bring to a boil for 2 1/2 minutes...stir occasionally with wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Add 1/2  tsp baking soda. Stir and immediately pour over (20) cups of popcorn in a paper sack. Stir with wooden spoon until all of the popcorn has been coated well. Fold top of bag over and put it in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Pour caramel corn out onto 2 large baking sheets and separate pieces. Cool and store in sealed container.

*Note: Hot sugar can cause serious burns. Please be careful while handling the caramel. If it lands on your skin, it will stick and the burn will be deep. Children should not help prepare this recipe.

**After I read negative health reports regarding the oil and flavor products in packaged microwave popcorn, I have thrown it all out and now only make popcorn in a pot! My adult children, who grew up with air-poppers and  mircrowaved popcorn, were dumbfounded that I could pop corn on the cooktop; it is easy and inexpensive.

Popcorn by the Pot

Heat a large pot on med-high heat. Add 1/8 inch oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Place 2 kernels of popcorn in the pot and cover with a lid. When the kernels pop it indicates that the oil is hot enough; add kernels...(start with 1/2 cup if you are not sure how much your pot will hold). When the kernels start popping, shake the pot around...use potholders to help hold the pot for the shaking process. When the popping sound slows down or stops, remove pot from burner and set on a trivet or another pot holder. Carefully remove the lid, allowing the steam to rise away from your face. Pour popcorn into a bowl and add any seasonings you desire.

(There is a fine line between timing the popping for perfect popcorn and leaving it on the heat source too long and burning the takes practice, so take it off sooner than later...burned popcorn is horrible). 

Note: The unpopped kernels are called 'old maids'.
Reason for old maids: 
Adding too much popcorn to the pot
Popcorn is old
Not shaking the pot vigorously during the popping process
Temperature too low
Pot type ( we have a cheap pot which does the best job of popping the popcorn...our enamel coated pot leaves a lot of old maids)

1 comment:

  1. Marian wrote: I do love caramel popcorn (actually just about caramel anything!), so your recipe sounds very appealing. In the pre-microwave days we always popped our corn that way.