Each year, I really struggle with what to do for my workplace gifts (and Ross’s). I want to give something most will enjoy, not just throw away when I’m not looking (not that I’ve ever done that myself, cough* cough*). Together, we have almost 50 people to cover, and because we are both food people, homemade treats are our go-to.
This year, caramel corn was calling my name. It’s relatively easy, and it stores well for a few days to allow for delivery. Last year, I did English Toffee, and while I loved the process, I won’t be doing that again for so many. Too much work and mess and not enough final product. I made the first batch back in September for Ross and I to try, and I knew it would be a contender.
I used this recipe from the Kitchn (one of my FAV online recipe and technique references). I only modified the recipe in one way- I added two extra tablespoons of canola oil to the pan for a total of 3 Tbs to 1/2 cup unpopped kernels. I make regular popcorn using this ratio and have great success, so I didn’t want to mess with a good thing.
Making caramel corn is a two step process: the popcorn, then the caramel (duh captain obvious).
I’m slightly enamored with candy making right now, and caramel is the most basic form of candy making. I love this part.
It smells just like it looks. Buttery brown sugar. mmmmmmmm.
It goes from oily (almost watery) to thick. It starts to chase itself and pull away from the sides around the pan when you stir.
After it sasses you a bit when you add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt (I like lots of salt), it goes smooth and glossy. Now the fun begins:
Everything is sticky at this point.
Bake for an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. Put in cute bags and VOILA! (sorry for VOILA, can’t help it)
This is a cute, and delicious way to give a holiday treat. If someone wants to throw it away when I turn my back, I know they are missing out!
Full disclosure- this recipe uses a TON of bowls and generates a lot of washing up.
Happy holidays from the Hughes house to you!