21 August 2014

Popcorn and Caramel Corn

Popcorn / www.delightfulrepast.com

Stovetop popcorn used to be my culinary nemesis (you can read about it in Popcorn - My Culinary Nemesis). That was two and a half years ago, and I'm back to let you know I can now make flawless popcorn! My skill improved a lot after that post because I tried all the helpful hints readers left in the comments. 

In choosing a pan, I had always thought the heavier the better. I thought I'd be even more likely to burn the popcorn if I used a lighter pan. Wrong! Using a lighter pan meant I could actually lift the pan and shake it. I don't like just scraping the pan back and forth on the stove, so I lift it up an inch or less and give it a shake several times during the popping. 

Then just recently someone told me the one thing that finally turned me into a popcorn master! Are you ready? Drumroll, please ... See Step 2 below. (Really, you need to read Step 2 and then come back for the next paragraph.)

Yes, those 30 off-heat seconds made all the difference. Now I have few to no unpopped kernels, ever! Now that I have popcorn confidence I'm venturing out into variations. Like this caramel corn. I must tell you, I have no idea what exactly is caramel corn, kettle corn, etc. This is just something I stirred up one day, and I had to call it something. 

If you have a better-slash-more accurate name for it, do let me know. And do share your likes and dislikes and tips for popcorn and its variations. I should tell you, my caramel corn is much less sweet than most, and I hope you'll try it this less-sweet way. Also, for those who care about such things, it contains no corn syrup.

Caramel Corn / www.delightfulrepast.com

(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons organic canola or coconut oil* 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
Optional: 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* Update 09/13/17: I just tried it with extra virgin olive oil, and it worked beautifully! 

1 Put 4 popcorn kernels ("test" kernels) in 3-quart saucepan (I use the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Saucepan) along with the oil and salt. Heat over medium high heat. 

2 When the 4 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds. 

3 Return the pan to medium high heat. When it really starts popping, shake the pan gently back and forth over (or slightly above) the burner, holding the lid askew (at least from time to time) to let the soggy-making steam out. 

4 As soon as the popping slows to several seconds between pops, dump it into a wide 4- or 5-quart bowl. If you like butter on your popcorn, melt a tablespoon of it in the hot popcorn pan and drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing well to distribute the butter evenly. 

Caramel Corn 

(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons organic canola or coconut oil 
2 tablesoons unsalted butter 
1/4 cup dark brown sugar 
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon water 
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Measure popcorn kernels and oil. Before starting to pop the corn, in 1-quart saucepan start melting together the sugar, butter, tablespoon of water and the salt over low heat, stirring a few times.

Note: You can probably skip lining the pan, but I can't guarantee it!

2 Pop the corn as directed above, but don't use salt and don't add butter. Pour into a very large bowl (to give you room for tossing). 

3 Increase heat to medium and cook caramel until it has been bubbling for one minute. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon of water and salt; it will foam up. 

4 Immediately drizzle the foamy sauce over the popcorn, tossing well to coat. Spread out on prepared half-sheet pan. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.



Amy at love made my home said...

I never make popcorn because of the fear of it being burnt and nasty and I don't like the thought of what is in those microwave bags, but this sounds easy, and I like the idea of the test kernels to know when the oil is the right temperature! Perhaps you will inspire me to have a go. The caramel corn sound delicious!!!! xx

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Amy, if I can do it, anyone can! I mean it - I would come away with half the kernels unpopped and much of the popped corn burnt!

Cranberry Morning said...

I'll have to say that my husband is the absolute best popcorn maker I know. He's only had about 40-some years practice. I'm sure he started making it at home when he was just a kid. We ate it on Friday nights with canned blackberries (not in the same bowl) or home-canned grape juice or fresh apples. I don't it eat, however, because it hurts my stomach and because corn in general doesn't sit well with me. BUT, if I did, and on rare occasions I do, eat popcorn, I like it plain. No caramel corn for me.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Judy, your husband is as handy as a pocket on a shirt! Even if I didn't eat popcorn, I'd be determined to be able to make it. Your Friday nights with popcorn and home-canned grape juice sound like heaven!

Sippity Sup said...

Popcorn on the stove was one of two things my father ever cooked when I was growing up. The other was fudge (which he only made once a year). Thanks for the memories. GREG

Sue/the view from great island said...

This is perfect --- I never make popcorn anymore, and it's so healthy. I love the tip about the lightweight pan!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Greg, I just love childhood food memories. Thanks for sharing.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sue. Yes, it is a healthy snack and I plan to eat a lot more of it now that I (finally!) know how to make it!

The Cranky said...

Popcorn! I love popcorn and always have. One of my favourite ways to have it is with just a touch of butter and a shake of parmesan. Yum!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jacqueline, mmm ... I'll have to try it with the parmesan!

My Garden Diaries said...

Oh YUM!!! I would love to try that carmel corn!!! It sounds fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing friend! Nicole xoxo

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Nicole! And do let me know how it turns out for you!

Angie's Recipes said...

You make me want to make some popcorn now! They have turned out perfect, Jean, the popcorn master.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Angie! I hope you bowed when you said that! ;-)

Angie's Recipes said...

ps what's the science behind those 30 off-heat seconds?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Angie, if I recall correctly, the off-heat 30 seconds gives the kernels time to all get up to the same temperature at the same time, so they are all ready to pop at the same time and start popping much sooner when returned to the heat. No time for burning and scorching. AND no huge numbers of unpopped kernels!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Drumroll – you got it! And give me one too, on account of rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Yes, it is true, my browser has been blinking on and off faster than a quasar and playing havoc with my Internet presence. But here it is, scarcely sundown, and I now have TWO browsers. Problem solved. I’m going to celebrate with popcorn and the four kernel rule. Temperature is critical. Do you store the unpopped kernels in the refrigerator? Seems like they do pop bigger that way and with fewer leftovers owing to the temp differential yielding a more explosive result. My only other suggestion would be that nothing goes better with popcorn than apples or apple cider.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, glad your internet woes are behind you. I've never had apples or apple cider with popcorn, but now that you have suggested it, it does sound like a great combination!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I have always loved popcorn. What a great hint on the 4 kernel method. I will be trying out this one for sure.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Beyond! And don't forget the 30 seconds off the heat - it's crucial!

Choclette said...

Ah great tips on popcorn. I haven't made it for years as I got rather dispirited about the number of unpopped kernels - will now try your method.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Choclette, do let me know how it works for you. I was exactly that - dispirited (excellent word, by the way) - and still can't quite believe it when I pour the popcorn from pan to bowl and see few, or even no, unpopped kernels!

Swathi said...

lovely, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Swathi! When I started the blog, I never dreamed I'd one day blog about popcorn!