HED: Sticky situation
The first time I burned my finger in the kitchen (as far as I can remember), I was making popcorn balls with my grandma around Halloween. She told me the candy syrup was very hot, but when she turned her back for a moment, I tried to sneak a lick of the molten mixture. Of course, as soon as I pulled back in shock and pain, the candy firmed up and stuck to my finger. I learned valuable lessons that day -- that making homemade candy can be dangerous, how to treat a burn, and probably most importantly, to listen to grandma. For every blossoming young cook there are these lessons along the way in the form of kitchen disasters and injuries that really become rites of passage.
So, I have a fabulous maple caramel popcorn today. And the first thing I want to say to you about this recipe is: Don't stick your finger in the hot caramel. I know it's tempting. Don't do it. Listen to grandma. This buttery maple concoction comes with salted pecans. It's like fall glory in popcorn form and it's super tasty and addictive.
Salted maple pecan popcorn
Makes about 8 cups
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn, popped and kernels removed
1 cup pecans, toasted*, salted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Spray a large metal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon with non-stick spray. Add the popcorn and pecans to the bowl and toss together.
2. In a small, non-stick saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, syrup and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture registers 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
3. Pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and pecans and use the wooden spoon to stir quickly until everything is nicely coated. Immediately spread the mixture out onto a large baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Break the popcorn into smaller pieces and serve or store in an airtight container or bag.
* I toast my pecans in a frying pan sprayed with a light coat of non-stick spray over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant and beginning to lightly brown, around 3-5 minutes. Recipe adapted from Gourmet.