I've mentioned before how we were an overwhelmingly savoury family growing up. Chips, nuts and dry biscuits were our snacks of choice when watching movies, normally Weekend at Bernies or Terminator 2. My brother and I have watched the latter approximately 50 times, no exaggeration. I do an outstanding Robert Patrick impression - it's all in the crazy eyes.
One exception was Mum's caramel popcorn. Her simple caramel was butter, brown sugar and golden syrup brought to the boil. Pour that liquid goodness over some popped corn and you have yourself a fine treat. For us, the caramel was the main event, the popcorn an afterthought. It became a soggy, sticky, sweet mess after a couple of hours - the optimal condition for our tastes.
While I love that version, I wanted to explore a more refined caramel. And like every other sucker around the traps, I knew a pinch of salt would seal the deal. Philippa Sibley's PS Desserts is an amazing reference for all things desserts (who woulda thunk it?), but it's her caramel recipe that really sings. She uses it in her Snickers recipe - I thought it would be a great addition to my popcorn, though with a little less cream and butter.
My buddy Kaye noticed a mentioned caramel popcorn in a post a few weeks ago. Since then, a day hasn't gone by without her casually asking if I've made any caramel popcorn yet. Well, Kaye, here's the good stuff.
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
5 tbsp vegetable oil
120g liquid glucose
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
140g caster sugar
2 tsp gelatine
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the a couple of kernels and wait til they dance in the pan a bit - they'll spin slowly. Add the rest of your corn, cover and shake regularly. Once popped, spread out in a shallow tray.
Bring the cream, liquid glucose and vanilla paste to the boil. Heat another pan over medium heat and drop in a small amount of sugar. Stir til it melts. Add the remaining sugar and stir until it has melted and turned a light golden brown colour (emphasis on light - it won't take long).
Now for the fun part. Add the cream slowly and whisk until combined. I find I often have a few little bits of hard caramel on the end of the whisk - no matter, it still works. Add the butter and stir to combine. Add the softened gelatine and salt. Strain out any hardened caramel. Cool slightly.
Pour caramel over the popcorn and stir to coat each kernel. Enjoy while watching a cheesy late 90s movie.