Toffee-Covered Popcorn

…. aka: Homemade Fiddle Faddle.  I realize this doesn’t qualify as dinner.  Well, it could qualify as a meal if you were in that frame of mind, and you know I don’t judge when it comes to that sort of thing.  I’m probably going to get in a heap of trouble with dentists and orthodontists and cardiologists everywhere for even suggesting that you make this at all, but I think like a food blogger and not a normal person, so this is what I’m sharing with you today.

I don’t know why I got it in my head that I needed to make Fiddle Faddle at home.  But I’m the stubborn sort (ask anyone) and when I get an idea, I can’t let it go until I give it a go. So I made my first batch of this popcorn yesterday afternoon.  Only one thing went wrong (and it was my fault completely); I mistakenly over measured on the amount of popcorn required for the recipe.  Thus, my popcorn:toffee balance was way off – by about four cups.  That didn’t stop my girls from sneaking clusters of it every time they walked past where it was cooling on the island, but they BOTH said (without realizing I had messed up) “this needs more toffee stuff.”

I needed to take a snack to paddle tennis last night, so I packed it up and fed it to the ladies.  Whadaya know, it was a crazy hit.  When I told them of my measuring blunder, they seemed surprised and said they LIKED that it was made a little lighter by the fact that there wasn’t as much toffee coating.  Therefore, even with the error, the recipe was deemed blogworthy.

So, the moral of the story is, play with the amount of popcorn according to how you like your finished product.  I used about eight cups of popcorn in today’s batch; yesterday’s skimpy-on-the-toffee version used 12.

NOW.  There isn’t room for play in the toffee part of the recipe.  Follow the directions to the letter.  You will need to babysit your pan.  Be careful while boiling the toffee mixture; it will bubble up the sides of the saucepan, so control your heat as you go.  Stir the mixture constantly during the time it takes to reach 265 degrees on a candy thermometer (for me, this took about 15 minutes over medium-ish heat).  While I don’t like telling people to go out and buy fancy cooking equipment, I highly recommend using a good quality candy thermometer here unless you’re already an expert homemade candy maker (I’m not).  A good one will run you around $20.00, but you’ll never look in your gadget drawer and be sorry to see it sitting there.  : )

This is a great recipe to have in your repertoire going into the holiday season, and how cute is this silly dish?  My youngest snuck it into the cart last week when I wasn’t looking — apparently she thought the DamFam couldn’t live without a spooky eyeball bowl from Sendik’s.  Have a great week. : )

SERVES:  2 (kidding, makes approximately 8 cups)

8 c. freshly popped corn
1/2 c. roasted salted almonds or peanuts

3/4 c. granulated sugar (Shurfine Sugar is on sale if you’re running low)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. water
1 t. kosher salt

1/2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250.  Spread popcorn and almonds on a cookie sheet (with sides) and place in the oven while you make the toffee mixture.

Combine sugars, butter, corn syrup, water, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.  You’re going to bring the mixture up to the hard ball stage on a candy thermometer (265 degrees); this will take roughly 15 minutes.  Stir the mixture constantly while it boils; watch carefully so that it does not boil over.  When the mixture reaches 265 degrees, add the vanilla and stir to combine (it will sizzle).  Remove pan from heat.  Remove popcorn from oven.  Working quickly, pour the toffee mixture over the popcorn in a thin stream.  Mix the popcorn so that each kernel is coated with toffee.  Put the pan back into the oven for five minutes, then stir once again, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula so that all the toffee gets incorporated into the popcorn and nuts.  Repeat this step once more if necessary to get it all coated.

Pour popcorn onto a large sheet of wax paper to cool.  Wait about five minutes, then use your hands to break the big chunks into smaller clusters.  When popcorn is completely cool, store it in an airtight container (if there’s any left at that point).  : )

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | October 9th, 2012