Homemade Holiday Gifts: Candy Bar Caramel Corn.
I threw “holiday” into the mix with all of this candy to divert you away from the fact that I probably should have shared this recipe last week. Because if you’re normal (I’m not) and have a semblance of self control (I don’t), you probably already hid/threw away/baked with your Halloween candy (I didn’t).
And then I went and posted some weird holiday-type recipe on Halloween. I’m just seriously… all out of sorts. She says while shaking her head.
And! What else is really hilarious? I never make my own gifts. NEVER. EVER.
I think it’s awesome. I think it’s a great idea and I adore getting homemade gifts myself. But I’m not creative. And seriously? I can’t make anything besides food to save my life. I don’t do crafts. Heck, I barely do laundry.
I really needed to find something to do with this candy. No, I can’t hide it. I will search it out. No, I can’t freeze it. I will break my teeth and take a bite. No, I can’t throw it away. I harbor feelings for chocolate. And no, I certainly can’t give it away. Do you know how much food I already pile on my family and friends? I guess I could donate it somewhere, and that’s going to be a serious possibility and first on my agenda today because I definitely would not want to be sitting on the couch with half of a Butterfinger in my mouth, getting pieces stuck in my teeth while I watch Sister Act for the 800th time. How humiliating. I have no idea who would do something like that.
So, why I really made this candy corn? I’ve only wanted to share it with you since visiting Kendall Jackson in September. We tasted this caramel corn with their Late Harvest Reisling (which I would give anything, like my soul, to find in this area) on our first night for “dessert”, and it was to die for.
Let me tell you my thoughts on popcorn. I’m not really a fan. You know… the way you’re not really a fan of something and then you go to the movies and order an extra-large free-refill bag, finish it off before the previews end, then crave it for the next 72 hours? Yeah, I’m not a fan in that way.
My dad made popcorn on the stovetop almost once a week while I was growing up. Actually, he still does. He eats it plain – no butter, no salt, no truffle oil, no anything. I rarely asked for a bowl, but occasionally I’d end up with one and have that whole popcorn addition thing going on again.
The only time we would get the “good” popcorn would be around the holidays – when family and friends would send us those giant tins with three or four different flavors. Um, how good was that? My mom would try to hide it from my brothers and me, but… we would search the house, break into it, eat enough to make ourselves physically ill and leave a few crumbs for unsuspecting guests.
And by guests, I mean my dad, who also would go in search of that popcorn tin that my mom tried to save for “special visitors.” Uh. I think I was a pretty special visitor. Like, so special that I visited for 25 years. Straight.
It was hard to choose a favorite popcorn flavor when they were drenched with crunchy syrups and savory blends. If I had to pick, I’d go with white cheddar popcorn because all good things in life come covered in cheese.
It never even occurred to me that I could make my own caramel corn. I’m not even joking. And I mean, it didn’t occur to me until late September of this year. I had no idea how easy it was. Trust me… it is super easy. Even easier to throw it in a bag with a pretty, sparkly ribbon and give it as a hostess’ gift. Do it. If you brought it to me, I’d totally leave my own party and go stuff my face full with caramel corn. I have sharing issues.
One more thing, I swear. [By the way, do I talk a lot? Can you imagine being locked in a windowless room with me? Do you feel for my husband?]
You need to know that this recipe is absolutely fabulous and unbeatable on it’s own. I totally trashed it up with Halloween candy, which adds a fun twist, but is nothing compared to the original. But hey… that’s my style.
Candy Bar Caramel Corn
[caramel corn from Kendall Jackson]
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 cups air-popped popcorn
candy bars of your choice
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Roughly chop candy bars to yield about 2 cups of assorted chocolate.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in sugar and corn syrup, whisking until dissolved, then let simmer (without mixing) until mixture begins to bubble – about 4 minutes. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes more until caramel is amber in color, this time stirring every 30 seconds or so in order for the sugar to not burn.
Turn off heat and whisk in vanilla, salt and baking soda. Gently fold in popcorn, turning it over and over again until it’s coated. Fold in about 1 cup of the candy bars, then spread popcorn on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping every few minutes to ensure that all the popcorn is coated. Remove from oven and top with additional candy bars. Let cool completely, then break into bite-sized pieces.
Now someone come hide the rest of the candy from me before I throw up.