Friday, July 9, 2010

PB Day Five - Salty-Sweet-Crunchy-Fluffy

It's kinda crappy out this morning...
What a perfect day to stay in. And eat.

Just what I need...more eating. I'm already going to be voted "Biggest Set Back" at my weight loss meeting on Monday.

Well, we only live once, right? Or, it twice? Either way, I'm making something awesome to put in my belly.
I really love sweets, and I have a sweet tooth that probably cover the city of Chicago, but I have a big ole place in my heart for salt. I lived in the south for 10 years and discovered the real definition of "salty".

So let's do salty-sweet today, okay? And crunchy-fluffy. And buttery.
Yep, let's talk popcorn. And, given our current topic, let's make peanut butter popcorn.

You: Oh, Amy...that sounds wonderful! Do you have a recipe???
Me: Uhh...sure. Sure I have a recipe. Yep. Sure do...

And by "sure do" I mean no. I have no idea how I'm going to do this. You watch as I try to figure this out...

We need some sort of candy-caramel thing to start from...So let's start with a basic popcorn ball recipe. Here's 3 that we can work from...

We'll take pieces-parts from all of these to make it our own. This is fun, right?

Start with 1 cup of butter.
Add 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup of corn syrup

Here's my hint. Don't stir it. Don't mess with it. Don't touch it. Turn on the heat and walk away. When you get to messing with candy, it starts to do funny things. Just pour it in and leave it.

Here's my other hint. Cook it slow and low. Do NOT get into a hurry to finish. It will punish you. And trust me, homemade candy will punish you quickly and severely. It is not a fair and just medium.
Ok, gadget time! Here's my popcorn popper...

Notice the "butter melting cap" is missing. Yeah, I totally burnt it up. Saved the house, lost the butter melting cap. You'll want to catch the popcorn into some vessel that you can put in the oven. That's 1/2 of a big roasting pan. If you live in central Illinois, you have to have one of these before you get your driver's license. I got like 6 of them as wedding gifts.

This is what 3/4 cups un-popped popcorn looks like when it's popped:

I used 3/4 cup because I like more candy coating than popcorn. If you like more popcorn than candy coating, use 1 cup unpopped...Put this guy in the oven to keep warm while the candy finishes cooking...
Speaking of which, how's the candy cooking going?

Ooooo, it's looking good! This is probably hard ball stage, just starting to turn colors. You don't have to worry too much about temperature, we're going to bake this. I think, anyways...

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1 tsp vanilla...

Now pull the popcorn out of the oven and pour the candy over...
Stir, stir, stir...quickly. It all runs to the bottom of the pan. It should look like this:

Now let's bake. How about for 30 minutes...we'll stir about every 10-15 minutes....

After 30 minutes, pull it out of the oven. And let's talk salt

There has been a sudden interest in salt, it even seems that some people are making artisan salts...from different areas of the world. I keep kosher salt for most of my cooking, but my sister-in-law introduced me to sea salt. It's pretty, isn't it?

I like the flavor, a lot, so let's just dump some in. What does that look like, a 2 teaspoons or so?

Here's the part where my dad falls to ashes..."AMY! That. Is. TOO MUCH SALT!!" Du-hu-hu-hude, chill...we're going for salty-sweet, remember?

Trust me, Dad. It's going to be okay.

Stir that salt in....

And dump it out onto foil to cool...Don't touch it, it will burn you...

Yeah, right Amy...Like I'm supposed to leave this alone?

After it cools, it's beautiful...
And it's everything I wanted: Salty. Sweet. Crunchy. Fluffy. Buttery.
It's like Fiddle Faddle, I guess. But not sticky.
It's like Caramel Corn. But saltier.
It's like a bag of chips that you can't put down.

I tasted it and made a noise that made my son go, "Mommy! Are you okay????"

Here's the recipe.

Peanut Butter Popcorn

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 300.

In a heavy duty pot, slowly melt butter, sugar, and corn syrup until the mixture begins to change colors, hard ball stage. Pop 3/4 cup of popcorn, place in an oven-proof container and into the oven to keep warm.

Pour syrup over the popcorn, stirring well, to completely coat the kernels. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Add salt, stir to combine.

Dump popcorn onto aluminum foil to cool. Break up and serve.

Store in an air-tight container.

It's yummy. I'm so glad it came out good: my husband wrinkled his picky-eater nose at the thought of it. I showed him.

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