Friday, January 21, 2011
Caramel Cayenne Popcorn
A deep freeze is slated to follow today's snowstorm, bringing several days of bitter cold winds with highs barely breaking single digits. As the snow came and went, I found myself trudging through ankle deep slush; slush that began to turn to slippery ice as the evening rush got underway. Rather than go out and risk a slip, fall, and inevitable injury, my husband and I decided to make a date for a tv/movie night. So while he is intently watching the Sabres play the Islanders (and telling me, in a disappointed tone, if he were playing for $6 million a year he'd still skate as hard as he could), I'm thinking about our movie options and making our Friday night dessert- caramel cayenne popcorn. A sweet crunch with a touch of heat to combat the chill in the air. The recipe, adapted from epicurious, is below.
Caramel Cayenne Popcorn (yield, approx. 8 cups)
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels (I used Arrowhead Mills)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup toasted pecans
1. Heat oil with 3 kernels in a covered saucepan over medium-high heat until you hear the kernels pop. Add remaining kernels, recover, and shake pan until kernels stop popping, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover.
2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until it registers 300°F on a candy thermometer, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
4. Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt, cayenne pepper, and baking soda into mixture, followed by the pecans and popcorn. Once coated, immediately spread mixture on prepared cookie sheets as thinly and evenly as possible. Cool completely and break into bite-size pieces.