Caramel Corn

*note: This was made in Tehachapi, at about 4500 feet. Cooking time for the caramel may need a minute of adjustment, depending on where you are. I believe it would be a bit longer if you’re higher up and a bit less if you’re lower.

  • 2-3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pop popcorn in oil, then allow to cool.

Melt butter in a heavy, 6-quart saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil an additional 9 minutes. Quickly stir in salt and baking soda, then stir in popcorn. Fold popcorn into caramel, scraping the bottom, until evenly covered. Using two oven mitts and two spoons or small spatulas, spread caramel corn over a large sheet of parchment or baking sheet. After caramel has completely cooled, break into pieces.

I’m thinking stirring in about a cup of your favorite salted nuts along with the popcorn, or dropping chocolate chips over the caramel corn right after spreading it out would be a neat twist.

Criss-Cross, Hooray for Floss! – Slicing up Cinnamon Rolls

Problem: Slicing filled and rolled cinnamon roll dough that results in Cinnamon Ovals, rather than Rolls…

Solution: Dental floss: It’s easier to grip than thread, but that will work in a pinch. Pull out about 1 1/2 feet of floss. Slip one end of the floss under your log of dough, pulling the ends upward so they’re even on both sides. This is a good time to gauge how tall your want your rolls to be, I usually slice about 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces, so position the floss the desired length from the end of your roll. Cross the thread as if you’re going to tie a knot, but then just keep pulling, all the way through the dough.

Tada!

Let it Snow, Baby; Let it Reindeer: Fix it with Powdered Sugar

Problem: no time or no ingredients to make frosting for a cake or brownies…

Solution: Throw a few tablespoons of powdered sugar in a sieve (I’ve even used a tea-ball infuser in a moment of desperation) and shake gently over your baked treats. Pretty pretty.

Fluffy Puff: Frosting with Altitude

Problem: flat, thick frosting that looks more like ganache, and might not be enough to frost your cupcakes…

Solution: Beat 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream almost to where it starts to seem like it’s turning to butter. Gently fold part of the whipped cream into your thick frosting (this is called lightening) then fold in the rest. You may have some swirls if you’re trying to make chocolate frosting (keep working, gently, they’ll go away) but if you’re doing vanilla or cream cheese, it will be less noticeable. If you like the sweetness of your frosting, add a bit more sweetener before folding in the whipped cream, or beat the cream with a bit of sifted powdered sugar.

Even Steven: Baking Quickbreads in Glass

Problem: Baking zucchini, banana, pumpkin, sweet potato, lemon, blueberry, cranberry, chocolate chip or any other kind of quickbread in a 8 or 9 inch glass loaf pan and the crust is getting way overdone but the center is still goo.

Solution: When you preheat the oven, lower the baking temperature for the recipe 25 degrees and extend the baking time anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, or until the center is set.