Monday, November 24, 2014

Caramel Popcorn for Kindy's Party

It is the end of the school year already! Oh my gosh, time really flies fast.
Was talking to my friend post school party , pre PTA meeting on Friday, and she just mentioned they (our two kids) will be turning 6 next year.


I have to admit. I went blank for awhile and then it hit me. OMG! PP is turning 6 next year!
SIX! That is huge. My precious Peanut is turning six. blink blink. Cannot compute.

Anyway....won't get into THAT now cause it will only make me panic and shutdown and not write anything as I would stare at my kids forever and ever...(why la you think I don't update often? I panic over blogposts.....he he he..stupid laugh mode)

(I promise you, the Caramel Popcorn recipe is coming)

So Thursday, the day before the last day of school and post party, I was in total blankness over what to bring over to school. When I asked PP's teacher, she said whatever I wish to bring or make. When I asked PP, she said...." I WANNA MAKE CUPCAKE! Please mummy, please? Can I make cupcakes?" .... I said I'll think about it. 

I did thought about it....

And I thought ....nope. nope. nope. Too lazy to make cupcakes, plus I think I made cupcakes for last year's party. A healthy one too! It was carrot and broccoli cupcakes (See...super healthy!).....with sugar icing ( have to hide the fact there were broccolis and carrots cupcakes) and it was a hit with the kids. aka HABIS! Finito! Gone to the last crumb. ...... Done the healthy route. 

Then I thought...let's just buy some fruits OR packaged drinks. That would be super easy.
Also...too easy. Hmm...MOST parents would go to that path. I think I did that too...grapes and milo drinks, I believe. Hmm nope nope nope. 

I was stuck. What would be easy to make but not to easy so other parents won't think the same. (I like to make life difficult to myself, you see.) 

And I remembered my old Salted Caramel Popcorn I made for one of PP's birthday party. Then I was too lazy to look for the recipe....Mind you...It was thursday, I am a working mom, and Thursday evening is also my yoga day. So...

8 PM: Finish yoga
8.30 PM: Reached neighbourhood supermarket. Googled Caramel Popcorn. Looks easy enough. 

Looked for recipe ingredients in supermarket.

8.50 PM: Still in supermarket looking for popcorn kernels. Let it be a warning for other parents, there are NO popcorn kernels available at Mydin Malaysia. 
8.55 PM: Went to Jaya Supermarket nearby to get popcorn kernel (where I should have just bought everything in the first place)
9.30 PM: Finally reached home to start making CARAMEL POPCORN! yippee!

11.30 PM: It turned out too salty. I. had. to. remake. fast and easy snack is not so fast and easy after all. Aiyayay!

Another tip. Don't wait to the 11th hour (literally) to make your caramel popcorns because you really don't have to. They can be made at most 1 week earlier if kept in an airtight container and hidden from snack crazy hands (including your own hands). So just....make them early. It will be okay. In other words....don't be me.

With PP and Bambam being hantu popcorn. It does not last more than three days. Much less a week.

Oh, too much yapping and you want the recipe now? 
Fine lah. I got this recipe from and there are pictures and everything! Very helpful 
(link HERE)

This is my version after the failed 1st attempt. My changes and notes in blue. 

How to Make Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

Makes 10-12 cups / Two large bowls in my case

What You Need

  • 1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped) I doubled this, 1 Cup of unpopped corn kernels.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter I used 250g of salted butter coz who cares. 
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar Make sure they are packed. White sugar can be used too of course
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Since I used salted butter, I sticked to this 1/2 Tsp of rock salt. No such thing as kosher salt in Malaysia. It cost too much anyhow. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • Sprinkles or almonds or whaever you want to add for the extra oommphh! 
  • Large lidded saucepan 
  • Large heatproof mixing bowl I used 3 mixing bowls - 1 for separate the unpopped kernel with the popped popcorns. hehe popped popcorns. 2 for the popped popcorns. hehe again. 
  • 1 large bowl with holes, like those pasta drainer - big enough for the unpopped kernel goes to down into the bowl and small enough so the popped popcorns (I don't know why I keep calling it this. juvenile humour) remains in the drainer.
  • 2-quart saucepan I used the same saucepan for popping the kernels. Less cleanup!
  • Heatproof spatula and a pasta spatula thingy. You know...the one that looks like a hand
  • 2 baking sheets aka Baking trays 
  • Parchment paper or silpats Do not use parchment paper that are non greasy. It will be sticky and you will curse yourself to the high moon and back. I had these food grade wax wrapping paper (brown coloured), you know, those used to wrap nasi lemak with super slicky side? Use is perfect. Use WAX paper. 

Gather ingredients and equipment. 
Arrange two oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F 
Line the baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Once you start making the caramel sauce, everything comes together quickly so have all the ingredients and equipment you need handy.
Yes...preheat oven to 250°F = 121°C
Baking trays lined with wax papers.

Make the popcorn. 
Warm 3 corn kernels and the oil in a large lidded saucepan over medium heat. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the corn kernels to the pan, shake to coat with oil, and put the lid on the pan. Pop the corn, shaking the pan occasionally, until the popping slows. Empty the popped corn immediately into a large heat-proof bowl. This makes about 10 cups of popcorn; make the popcorn in two batches if your pan is not large enough. 
Since I used 1 cup of corn kernel, take the time to make 2 batches. Seriously, less unpopped corn kernels to deal with. 

Super fluffy popcorn. Like add a bit of salt to this, and it is already perfect. But we are making CARAMEL popcorn here.
Make the caramel sauce. 
Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely moistened. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously. (Boil for a minute less if cooking on an electric stove.) → The exact cooking temperature isn't critical with this recipe, but ideally you want the sugar mixture to reach between 250°F and 300°F. The longer you cook the syrup, the crunchier it will be. For very crunchy popcorn (my favorite!), stop cooking when you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the sugar mixture.

Follow this exactly. I didn't use a termometer, and it is easier when using white sugar since you know it has turned caramel when the white sugar turned brown. But when using brown sugar, you just have to wing it a bit. The brown sugar mixture will turn even darker brown and wait for that wisp of smoke, and very slight burnt smell. VERY slight. and turn OFF the fireeeee

Boiling caramel sauce. Just before the first smoke and turned even darker brown
Add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras. Off the heat, add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras, and stir until combined. The sugar mixture will bubble up violently. Continue stirring until you form a thick, glossy sauce.

Oh does bubble and sizzle. My sauce had some separation between butter and caramel mix. But it is still good! 

Combine the caramel sauce and popcorn. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring the popcorn (it helps if you have a partner for this step — one person pouring while the other stirs the popcorn). Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.
Bake the caramel popcorn. Divide the popcorn between two baking sheets, spreading the popcorn out into an even layer. It's ok if the popcorn clumps together. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps. 

Also best if you switch the baking pans top to bottom, bottom to top at 30 mins mark. 
I mixed my rainbow sprinkles in now. Not too much, just a handful across both trays so the girls would go ga-ga about. 

About the switch trays positions. See the wax paper soaking in the extra butter and caramel mixture.
Let cool completely. Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I did not let it cool completely. Immediately after taking it out from the oven, I started breaking off more clumped popcorns and scrapping the popcorn off the baking trays and putting them back in the mixing bowl I used before. Because if I didn't, the popcorns would stick to the wax paper. And trust me...caramel popcorn with wax paper sticking on it is not yummy.

Declump and scrap the caramel popcorn off immediately from the wax paper to avoid tears.
Also...see my pasta spatula thingy I use to mix the mixture, declump and basically moving the caramel popcorn around.
And that was pretty much it. Put in an airtight container and it is ready for some sugar high kids to indulge! I made just enough to fill about 30 large cupcakes liners and 1 and half Ikea jars.

Spot the rainbow sprinkles on my individualised portion of Caramel Popcorn.
Popcorn in cupcake liners.

PP and her bowl of Caramel Popcorn treats.
Disclaimer: No seatbelt because it has been taken off, PP is eyeing her teacher coming to get her.
Seating in front because seriously...we live across the kindy. Like less than 50m. .... just don't ask why I don't just walk there. It's Malaysia ok. It's h-o-t
Of course PP can't help herself to a taste of her caramel popcorn.
And yes....she noticed the rainbow sprinkles. and SHE LOVED IT!
....and then PP left me for the clown in the hall.
I don't remember any of my school's year end parties having clowns.

Overall....I am glad to report that the kids loved the caramel popcorns. Even the class teacher loved it. As quoted by the teacher, "It was a HIT! The kids loved it!" as she returned an empty bowl back to me.

I mean...of course they would love it. It is popcorn and basically covered with caramel aka SUGAR and with rainbow sprinkles on them. Sorry other parents, I just can't do healthy snacks all the time. You do that at home okay?

So now...I think I should prep myself on what to make for next year. 

And you know lah who else loved the caramel popcorn....Bambam loved it very much. Don't even think of taking the jar away from her. You can ask her for some, she will give it to you but do not take the jar of caramel popcorn from her. It is hers. 

Bambam looooooove the caramel popcorn
Open - happy face, close - eat a popcorn, open - happy face again - close - eat a popcorn. repeat. These were screenshots from a video I took of Bambam. 
Dancing to Frozen while hugging caramel popcorn jar
Rest to stuff face with more caramel popcorn while Frozen is in background
Uhhhh serious scene on Frozen. Must hug caramel popcorn jar while we are at it because it will be stolen by PP if Bambam let it go. Let it gooooo, Let it goooooo....let the popcorn jar goooooo. Let it gooooo, Let it goooooo.... Oh It is a no go.

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