Thursday, October 25, 2012
Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn
We have friends from back in Lee's FedEx days. They also have a blog on my blog list, Alfonso Family News. Recently Cindy posted a story and mentioned that she had made some Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn. So naturally I had to ask her for the recipe. She got hers from Epicurious.
Back when we lived in Northern California I had a friend named Wendy Hunt. She was a Nutritionist and taught at a Sacramento State University. She gave me a wonderful Caramel Corn recipe. It became our kids' favorite and we made it most years at Christmas. She had two wonderful kids that came to my day are and we saw each other daily during the school year. Sadly, she developed ALS. I think of her every time I open my recipe box and see the recipe from her. It is in her handwriting and I often wonder if I should send it to one of her boys.
I decided to combine the two recipes and this is a Cindy/Wendy Caramel Corn!
Bacon And Cashew Caramel Corn
1 bag plain microwave popcorn, popped
10 slices precooked bacon
small can of cashews, I used most of one, the recipe called for 2.5 oz. Not enough nuts for me!
Here the recipe from Cindy called for Kosher salt and cayenne pepper. I used just a pinch of the salt, because I used salted cashews, not raw and I didn't use any cayenne. Neither Lee nor I can eat that stuff any more. Old people stomachs!
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 oolong tea bag
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 350.
The recipe from Epicurious made 15 cups. It did not use Crispix, but Wendy's did. I really prefer the Crispix so I did half and half. After popping the corn, put it in the biggest bowl you have. Then dump the same amount of Crispix on top. Then dump as many cashews as you want.
After cooking the bacon for 2 minutes in the microwave, drain them on a few paper towels. When they are nice and crispy, crunch them up in the paper towels. I wanted them in even smaller pieces, so I chopped them up on a cutting board and then added them to the bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne if you wish. I didn't wish. Mix everything up. At this point I had to sweep the floor. So I got out another big bowl and mixed everything up in two bowls so I had room to work!
I would love to show you lots of pictures showing all these steps. And I would if I hadn't accidentally deleted them while trying to delete some other things. I did not want to make a double batch (30 cups!), so I am using what pictures I have. Sorry!
Bring the cream and the tea bag to just starting to boil and remove from the heat. The recipe called for oolong tea, but we drink Red Rose Tea. It is our favorite for the flavor, but every time you open a box, you get a little ceramic collectible.
I usually give them to our daughter, Tara. She used to love them when she was a child but now she is a growns up, as we say in our grown up fashion, and has no idea what to do with them. But once you start collecting something, you may not stop. This is something hoarders understand. But these are wee things and don't take up much room....So use oolong if you have it, I didn't.
Let the tea steep for about 15 minutes, You can press gently on the bag with the back of a spoon. Discard the tea bag.
I have a large roasting pan. In years past I have used as many pans as I had, but my big roaster held it all. Line it with parchment to save in the clean up. Oh, you will still be washing bowls and pans and counters...and floors, so save when you can! Spray two wooden spoons with Pam.
Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and then turn it up to high. My high was too high, so I dropped it down to medium high. At this point you stop stirring. You want the sugar to caramelize and turn a dark amber. Pick it up every once in a while and swirl it around so it cooks evenly, but no stirring. It takes about 13 minutes from when you turned it up.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream. It will bubble up. Keep stirring until blended and then pour over the bowls of popcorn/Crispix. Using the sprayed spoons, stir until evenly coated. Then transfer to the large roasting pan.
Place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Take it out and stir to try to evenly coat everything. Put it back in for 10 more minutes.
While you are waiting for the last ten minutes, wash all the pans and bowls so far. Then using the soapy rag wash the counters down. Then rinse and wash again. You can let the mixture cool in the roasting pan, and keep stirring to break up the clumps, but this is easier and faster. Especially if you have nice cool granite counter tops. But they have to be really clean. So rinse again and if you need to dry them use a clean paper towel.
Get out the pan and stir one more time. When everything is coated and still warm and pliable, dump it out on the counter tops. You may have to respray the spoons during each step. Then use them to spread out and break up clumps. It is also a good idea to pull out any unpopped kernels. They are called Old Maids. I don't want to speculate whether it is because they are left behind unwanted or if this is a comment on their virginal status. Just use this time to get rid of them so they don't break your teeth!
By now the corn has cooled. Put it in large airtight containers . I like to use a pastry cutter to pick it up and transfer it. Due to the bacon they should be kept in the refrigerator. I am taking some on the road. A friend and I are going on a road trip and you always need junk food for a road trip. I think it is a law!