Amber’s Caramel Corn

There is totally a method to the madness here at BAH.  Remember when I told you that you should spend a ridiculous amount of money on a jar of coconut oil?  Ok, I didn’t tell you that you might experience sticker shock when you saw how much the grocery store charges for coconut oil, but I strongly suggested that you go out and get yourself a jar of the stuff.  That was because in addition to being the perfect oil for those delightful Pomme Frites, I knew that we’d be talking popcorn soon thereafter.  And if you’re going to fire up the stove and pop some kernels, as opposed to using an air popper or throwing them into the microwave in a paper bag, coconut oil is going to be your friend.

A mere tablespoon or two (depending on the size of your pot) of the stuff helps to transfer the heat of the stove into the kernel where the internal moisture heats up until the whole thing explodes into a beautiful bite of tender fluffiness.  Although you shouldn’t be cooking your popcorn over super high heat, the coconut oil can take what you throw at it and leave your popped kernels without any residual greasiness.  And don’t worry about your popcorn having a coconutty flavor.  It won’t.  But it will provide you the perfect palate on which to load up some easy caramel sauce for Amber’s Caramel Corn.

Amber’s Caramel Corn

Adapted from Bluebonnets & Brownies

BAH Note: I’ve asked the oracle of google what purpose the baking soda serves in the caramel sauce.  The best explanation I could find is that it is supposed to help the caramel set up soft. My real world data suggests that the caramel coating sets up rather hard and brittle on the popcorn.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  It just isn’t the soft caramel corn that you might get at the beach or county fair.  It’s more like what I remember Cracker Jacks to have been like.  And I won’t lie, it’s a huge pain to scrub out of your pot and bowl.  Be sure to use a nonstick pot to cook up the caramel and fill your work bowl with hot water for a bit before you attempt to scrub it clean.

  • 1/4 cup uncooked popcorn kernels
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and cook until the kernels have popped (for a refresher on cooking popcorn on the stove, please refer to Jenna’s method).  Transfer the popcorn to a bowl large enough to let you stir in the caramel.  You may need to divide the popcorn into multiple bowls.

Line a half sheet pan or a few cookie sheets with aluminum foil.

In a large, nonstick pot or saucepan, heat the sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt over medium heat, stirring often.  Continue to cook and stir until the sugar melts and the sauce takes on a caramel color.  Be careful not to overcook the sauce or it will burn.

Turn off the heat and add the baking soda to the saucepan.  As you stir in the baking soda, the sauce will bubble up and double in volume.  Be careful here, hot sugar is rocket hot and burns are no fun.

Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn.  If your popcorn is in more than one bowl, divide the sauce among all the bowls you are using.

Working quickly, and carefully, use a silicone spatula to combine the popcorn and caramel sauce.  Not each piece will be completely coated but there should be some caramel on each popped kernel.  Transfer the coated popcorn to the foil lined sheets and let it cool completely before grabbing handfuls of it and shoving it in your mouth.

Should you find you have leftovers, store it in an airtight container such as a zip top plastic bag with as much of the air removed as possible.

{printable recipe}

Apple Cranberry Rhubarb Relish

The English language is a funny thing.  There are so many words that are nearly interchangeable that sometimes I find myself at a loss as to which one is correct to use.  For instance, take the topping on that waffle in the picture.  What would you call it?

I have been calling it:

rel·ish noun \ˈre-lish\

something adding a zestful flavor; especially : a condiment (as of pickles or green tomatoes) eaten with other food to add flavor

chut·ney noun \ˈchət-nē\

a thick sauce of Indian origin that contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is used as a condiment

jam noun

a food made by boiling fruit and sugar to a thick consistency

While I’m not quite sure what I ended up with, I started out to make a chutney.

Since I can confirm that topping my waffle with it did result in Merriam Webster’s alternate definition of relish – enjoyment of or delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desire – I am making the executive decision that what I made was a relish.  When you, or Merriam Webster, make it, y’all can call it what you like.

Apple Cranberry Rhubarb Relish

Inspired by Bluebonnets & Brownies Apple Rhubarb Chutney from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

BAH Note:  The chutney recipe I used as my guide is meant to be canned.  I don’t preserve so I store my relish in the refrigerator.  I wasn’t quite expecting this recipe to make the quantity it did.  If I had to do it all over again, I would cut the recipe in half.  Also, if you are making a full batch, you need to work in a dutch oven, preferably a 6 quart one.  I used my 12 inch frying pan and was really pushing my luck.  Remember, boiling sugary liquid is HOT.

BAH Tip: If you are using frozen rhubarb, it is much easier to dice before it has thawed.

  • 8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (from approximately 8 medium size apples)
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 bag whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine rhubarb, cranberries, lemon juice and zest, sugar, water and 4 cups of apples in a dutch oven.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil.  Lower heat to maintain a gentle boil, stirring frequently for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the remaining 4 cups of apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg and return to a gentle boil for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture has cooked down to a thick consistency and the diced apple pieces are tender.

Carefully transfer the relish into individual glass containers and store in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}