Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There is a Way to Make Kettle Corn Without Burning the Sugar



I don't want to spoil any surprises, so I can't reveal much about what's coming out of the Pinch kitchen this holiday season. I haven't made too many cookies yet - just a batch of apricot Rugelach. I've had a hankering for those Coconut Macaroons and suspect those will get turned out soon. The younger bakers are trying to master Tara's 3D Christmas Tree Cookies and the French classic, Buche du Noel. We made a gorgeous buche several years ago - meringue mushrooms and all - and I don't seem to have captured a photo.

What I can tell you is that we've revamped the kettle corn recipe to make it completely fool proof and way tastier. Making kettle corn is tricky because recipes generally advise you to pop the corn in sugar and sugar likes to burn at high temps. It's difficult to keep the temp high enough to pop all the kernels and low enough to keep the sugar from caramelizing. Several years ago, while standing in line at Garrett's Popcorn, I watched as the popcorn monkey tossed plain popcorn with caramel and tucked the idea away. A few weeks ago I tried out different methods of adding the sugar to already popped corn to come up with the best result. Here it is:

New and Improved Kettle Corn
Print recipe only here

Serves 1 to 4, depending on degree of self-discipline

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 T canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 T water
1 t salt (or salt to taste)

METHOD
Set out a serving bowl and oven mitts. Measure sugar and water into a small saucepan. Warm over medium high heat, swirling until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Turn off heat and reserve.

Set a large stainless steel pot - one you have a cover for - over a medium high flame and add the canola oil. After a minute, add the popcorn kernels and cover. Once the popcorn is popping vigorously, lower heat slightly and stay close. As soon as the popcorn has finished popping, lift the cover and quickly pour the sugar syrup over the popcorn. Working quickly, replace the cover and pick up the entire pot, and shake to distribute the syrup, taking care to keep the cover in place. You could also try to stir the sugar syrup in, but I find this method tends to break up the popcorn.

Pour the coated corn into your serving bowl and add salt. Serve and enjoy!

1 comment:

Allyson said...

This is now known as the recipe that saved Christmas! I needed something for teacher gifts, but couldn't stop burning the sugar in traditional kettle corn recipe. Thank you for sharing this ingenious recipe!