Dave’s family is famous for the delicious homemade maple syrup, jams, dill pickles and relishes they give at Christmas and this year we thought we’d add a little DIY to our gift-giving. Our holiday goodies for 2011: spiced pecans and caramel popcorn.
I found the recipe in the Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen cookbook and thought it looked tasty and easy enough to make. Which is true, it is easy to make – melt butter, pop corn, add icing sugar and a dash of salt. The tricky part, though, is finding the just-right temperature (and timing) to achieve that deep, rich caramel colour.
Our kitchen was like a candy factory this week as I made five batches of the stuff (actually, technically, it was 10 batches since I doubled the recipe each time). The first two tries were too light – the kernels were sweet, but kinda whimpy tasting. I burnt the third batch (burner was set too high at 6). Gun shy, I turned the burner down to 4 for the fourth batch and, again, the results were bland. I got brave by the fifth batch and cooked the candied corn at level 5 and I am proud (and relieved) to say that I finally achieved that gooey caramel-y colour. I threw the previously cooked, too-light kernels back onto the heat and watched their colour deepen from lightly toasted to (almost) perfectly caramelized.