I woke up from strange (seriously, strange) dreams to the sound of pouring rain, but miraculously the sun came out and is now shining so strongly I had to close the blinds. I am working from home so in the early-morning gloom I was particularly happy to remember the loaf of delicious Acme whole wheat walnut bread I’d picked up yesterday at the Ferry Building. (To eat with homemade blackberry jam, of course.)
So I made tea and toast for breakfast (I may have also had it for lunch) and left my pajamas on for awhile.
Then I carefully placed a flourless chocolate cake (or, a ‘Gateaux Victoire’) in its water bath to bake for a dinner party tomorrow night.
(Here it is post-oven.)
And I popped popcorn for caramel corn for my sweetie, because he likes it and because why not? I haven’t really cooked in a sort of leisurely way in a long time — and I even, gasp, pulled out my real camera, which felt very, very good — and Fridays are nice days for doing that in between all the editing. It was a bit of a massive work-week, and so I’m gently sliding into the weekend with some sun, some cake, and some more tea. There are two full days coming up to relax and enjoy.
The holidays loom. To ease the bite — or as an edible gift — consider making from-scratch caramel corn. It’s pretty simple, tastes better than anything you can buy, and is sure to please. It could even provide Thanksgiving-cooking sustenance if you can turn your thoughts there already. I’m trying to; the only thing I’m sure of right now is that I’ll be baking sweet potato biscuits and making cauliflower soup. But after all, there’s still a few more weeks …
[print_this]Caramel Corn with Peanuts, via Orangette
(Adapted from DamGoodSweet, by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel)
I made this with unpopped popcorn I got from my organic market; I don’t have a microwave and anyway it’s so! easy! to make. I omitted the corn syrup the original recipe called for and used maple syrup instead, and I used unsalted raw peanuts because that’s what I had. It’s really good.
10 cups freshly popped popcorn
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup havled peanuts (at least, that’s how I can buy ’em in bulk)
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pop the popcorn: in a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over high heat. Add about 1/2-3/4 cup popcorn kernels and shake. Cover, and shake occasionally until popcorn is popped. Oil a large bowl and dump the popcorn in.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, distributing it evenly. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.[/print_this]