I’m going to fess up right now : I’m not really a popcorn fan. I have probably made popcorn a whopping 5 times in my entire life. In fact, my mother taught me how to make it last Spring when she came for a visit (and I’m counting the time we made it together in my grand total, FYI).
That being said, I don’t dislike the popped-stuff, it’s just that it’s never really interested me. Except for that neon-orange used to be 99-cents for a huge bag at the gas station kind of popcorn. I bet I still have radio-active insides from loving that stuff up each time I found enough pop cans to turn in for a refund, meaning 10 cans, meaning 1 dollar of spending money. Ooohhh, the good ole days…hopping on my bike, riding around the baseball fields in search of cans to feed my 7-year-old junk food habit.
Oh, sorry. Caramel popcorn.
The weekend is often synonymous with my baking up a little something special pour le goûter, for the afternoon snack. When the baking ban was in place, it meant being creative and finding other ways to have a little lovin’ from the kitchen, because I wasn’t going to simply buy pre-made goodies. As if.
Enter the popcorn.
People do eat salty-buttery type popcorn here in France, but popcorn is more often a sweet treat, covered in caramel. When I suggested making popcorn, Monsieur Fish instantly asked, “Sais-tu en faire sucré? Manger salé à quatres heures, ça ne se fait pas!” (You know how to make it sweet? You just can’t eat salty for our afternoon snack!). “Bah, ouais, bien sûr!” (Duh, of course!) was my reply. Then I went into the kitchen to find the books that would show me how. Duh.
So here’s the deal, I found three recipes in my various vegan cookbooks, and each of them are probably delicious, but they were very time consuming – like an hour of baking and turning over popcorn and being careful not to burn it- and required vegan butter to make the caramel.
Huh. There must be an easier way.
Then I remembered the quick caramel technique I learned during this Daring Bakers Challenge, and I was all over it. We made a hazelnut praline paste and used this super-quick caramel sugar technique and I’ll be a monkey’s aunt, it’s come in so handy! I love adding tools to my box!
This is approximate, so just let go of the measurements if you will. It’s also hot and sticky and can be dangerous, so be careful!
I popped up my popcorn – a big salad bowl full – and then I got out my favourite heavy pan and set the burner to med-high. I poured in probably about 1 cup’s worth of sugar, maybe more, maybe less, I have no idea. Then, you wait. Don’t stir, don’t go get a drink of water, and don’t take a nap. Stand next to that pan, because in a matter of instants it’ll turn into the most lovely caramel. Do be vigilant because it can burn really, really fast. Once the centre starts to melt into caramel you can swirl your pan around if you find the sides aren’t catching on. Then just carefully pour this over your popcorn, tossing with a big wooden spoon because it hardens fast.
Repeat if necessary.
I suppose you could add a little salt if you like that kind of thing, too.
If this isn’t clear, please let me know and I’ll try to elucidate you my dear reader, because this is totally worth trying. There are pictures of the process in this post, so check it out if you’re not sure!