I didn’t have as much time to bake this year with our new little roommate to tend to, but it wouldn’t have felt like a holiday season without making SOME sort of treats. I had to make the usual batch of Furikake Chex Mix and tried out a David Chang/Momofuku cookie recipe (coming soon). My mother-in-law volunteered to watch Mia on Black Friday so that Kev and I could go out on a date, and we took her up on it. When we mentioned we were thinking of going to brunch and a movie, she asked us to pick up a tub of her favorite Arclight caramel corn. With that in mind, I made a mental note to find a good candied popcorn recipe when Christmas came around. I wanted to make something a little different and came across this recipe for a Smoky Candied Popcorn on Kitchn.
The amount of chili powder in the recipe is perfect – it’s not spicy at all and just adds a subtle hint of smoky flavor. I followed the recipe to a tee the first time, and it was delicious. However, I wanted to take the smokiness level up a notch without the possibility of creating spiciness by having too much chili powder. With my newfound love of smoked paprika, I added a quarter teaspoon in to the dry mix. And who doesn’t like a good salted caramel? I added another 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt to the recipe too. This popcorn is like crack. I’ve made it three times in the last few weeks and can’t get enough of it!
Hope you can enjoy it too! Here’s the recipe, as adapted from Kitchn:
10 cups popped popcorn (8 cups if you like your popcorn more candied)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Line a large (18×13-inch) baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pan liner. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Mix together the chili powder, smoked paprika, baking soda, and salt in a separate tiny bowl and set aside.
In a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, light corn syrup, and butter. Cook 10 minutes, occasionally swirling or stirring with a rubber spatula, until it all melts into an amber-hued caramel and pulls away a bit from the side of the pan. This mixture will be super hot, so be careful not get any on your skin.
Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the chili powder, smoked paprika, baking soda, and salt — the mixture will bubble up, so be careful.
Quickly pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a rubber spatula to evenly coat all the popcorn kernels. Once coated, carefully spread the popcorn onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, separating any large clumps that came together.
Let cool 15 minutes if serving immediately or 2 to 3 hours to cool completely before wrapping and gifting. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.
I’m having trouble accepting that summer is over and we’re merely days away from the first day of fall. My days of tanning frantically so that people stop asking me if I’m sick are over, and I won’t have to worry about being seen in a swimsuit anymore.
…I think I’ll be able to cope with it. I’ve been really behind on baking due to the never ending list of weekend social, athletic, and work obligations this summer. Every weekend seemed to present itself with weddings or basketball tournaments (sometimes both), or work events. Luckily, there was ONE weekend in August where I had time to make something – luckily it also happened to be Kelli‘s birthday potluck with Sho-Yu. Since she loves all things salted caramel, I whipped up a batch of Salted Caramel Cupcakes. I found the recipe on Cookies and Cups, who adapted it from The Butch Bakery Cookbook. I actually did some adapting of my own to the recipe, after making Cookies and Cups’ version of the caramel sauce. I thought the original recipe left the caramel sauce a bit too watery and not rich enough, so I ended up making a second version of the caramel sauce. Below is what I’m recommending!
10 TBSP butter
2 1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C whole milk
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 TBSP butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C whole milk
3/4 C reserved caramel sauce
3 C powdered sugar
4 TBSP butter, room temperature
1 TBSP milk
Sea Salt for topping
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the brown sugar for a bit (it won’t melt the way white sugar does), and then add the butter and milk. Bring to a boil.
Let mixture until all of the sugar is melted (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool. If you’re finding that the caramel is too liquidy, add more sugar. Conversely, if you’re finding that the caramel hardens when you dip a spoon and pull it out for a bit, add a little more butter.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
Fill each liner a little more than 1/2 full. I used a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop but don’t use a full 1/4 cup in each cupcake liner.
Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
While cupcakes are cooling make the frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and COOLED) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy.
After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce the tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes.
Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each. Or you can just pipe the frosting on as I did.
Lightly sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.
I’ve spent every Memorial Day Weekend since childhood for the last 16 years playing in a basketball tournament, eating some loathsome amount of food I shall not delve into, and hanging out with my favorite people. This past Memorial Day Weekend was special however, because we were celebrating Jamie’s grad school graduation. Before I go any further, I have to provide the inspiration for the subject matter of this post. Jamie’s boyfriend, Shou, sent out an email letting us know about a graduation BBQ we were going to have for Jamie in LA since they were both down from NorCal for the tournament weekend. Naturally, I volunteered to bring dessert, and after failing to get an answer from Jamie as to what her favorite type of sweets were, I deferred to Shou as follows:
what kind of dessert does jamie like?
i get a half day tomorrow, so i was thinking of trying to bake her something
me: she said you like cheesecake but i don’t care what you like
she likes desserts period
like cake? cookies? bars? cupcakes?
surely, she has something she likes more than others
me: does she like fruity things? chocolatey? citrusy?
After accumulating all the random supplies needed from the market and Target (candy thermometer, anyone?), Shou sent the following text: “Omg. Jamie likes to MAKE cupcakes, not eat them.” I couldn’t bring myself to take the perishables back to the market the next day, because “I promise I didn’t poison these bananas or leave this buttermilk in my hot car all day” just didn’t seem viable. So, I decided to make pumpkin bars with a gingerbread crust in addition to the banana cupcakes.
My banana cupcakes were off to a good start with everything going smoothly in the batter-making process, but things took a turn for the worse when it came time to start the Caramel Buttercream frosting. I guess the need for a candy thermometer should have raised a red flag, but I refused to buy one because I would probably never use it again. Instead, I purchased a digital meat thermometer with a probe and clip it at such an angle where the tip of the probe wasn’t touching the bottom of the pan to give the most accurate temperature read. Behold my clever device:
I made the caramel successfully with said contraption, but in the process, I managed to knock a pan’s worth of hot melted sugar into my kitchen sink which quickly cooled and solidified. After pouring gallons of boiling water down the sink to try to dissolve what had probably become a giant rock of sugar, I found my inner plumber (sans buttcrack) and disassembled the sink, cleared the clogged pipe, and put the pipes back together. Of course, it continued to leak water, so I ended up taking it apart and putting it back together four more times. By the time I had gotten everything back to normal, all of the frosting ingredients had cooled or warmed to the wrong temperature. I tried to combine them all in vain and instead of a fluffy frosting, I was left with sugary soup.
Accepting frosting defeat, I bought dark chocolate frosting at the store to accompany my banana cupcakes. Until next time, Caramel Buttercream.