Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nutty Caramel Popcorn

A better-than-store-bought snack to nibble on. We added roasted peanuts and toasted coconut for extra crunch.

Prep 15 minutes plus cooling. Cook about 15 minutes. Makes about 20 cups.
  • 16 cups popped corn or two 3 1/2-ounce bags natural-flavor microwave popcorn, popped
  • 1 jar (8 ounces) salted dry-roasted peanuts (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make:
  1. Grease two 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 jelly-roll pans (or 1 jelly-roll pan and 1 large roasting pan) and 2 large heat-safe rubber spatulas; set aside. Place popped corn in very large bowl; top with peanuts and coconut (do not stir).
  2. In heavy 2-quart saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, and margarine to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking, without stirring, until temperature reaches 290 degree F., or soft-crack stage (when small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into threads that are hard but not brittle), about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in vanilla. Working quickly, pour half of hot mixture over popcorn mixture; with spatulas, stir to mix, making sure to incorporate peanuts and coconuts. Pour remaining hot mixture over popcorn mixture; stir until evenly coated.
  4. Divided caramel corn between prepared pans. Sprinkle any peanuts and coconut remaining in bottom of bowl over caramel corn; with spatula, press onto caramel corn. Cool in pans on wire racks. When cool, break into small clusters. Store at room temperature in tightly covered container up to 1 month.
Note: Each cup: About 130 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 6 g total fat (2 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium.

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