Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Pamchenko Twist

I have been having a love affair with caramel for most of my life. In the last few years the passion has has been turned on high as I learned how to take matters into my own hands and make my own caramel (the perfect marriage of supply and demand). This little dance was near perfect.  I would make the caramel, either sauce or candy and then enjoy it as soon as temperature would allow. It was beautiful. Sadly, two weeks ago the saucy little Manx turned on me and I thought it was all over.

 It was largely my fault, do not blame caramel. Ok blame her a little bit. For some reason I had decided that the time had come to learn to make caramel corn. This was an odd decision (as a dear friend of mine pointed out) as I do not really care for popcorn. It turns out though,  that once it is smothered in my gooey little lover, I am a huge fan of the stuff. I am talking a "get it out of the house so that I do not turn into Gilbert Grape's Mama" kind of a fan. Anywho, back to the caramel corn apocalypse that went down in my kitchen.

Thankfully I decided to tackle this on an evening when my husband was home. His presence was probably my saving grace, as I failed epically at making caramel corn not once, or twice but four times in a row. I was a women possessed and was slightly infuriated that this spineless, craptastic recipe dared to not work for me! For me??? The humanity! The wasted sugar (12 cups total) and butter(6 cups)! I refused to fail at this seemingly simple task and was heard yelling, " Again!" each time I had to scrap sugary, burnt remains into the garbage. I was not slowed by the sounds of the smoke detectors and I ignored my family's pleas to stop. I had become Moira Kelly in the Cutting Edge and Alan was my DB Sweeney (but instead of throwing me into the air he mostly kept the children out of the kitchen). The caramel corn was to be my Pamchenko Twist (I am still running with the movie comparison here, and yes I do own it and did watch it with subtitles on in order to spell Pamchenko correctly, and yes I am aware that makes me a wee bit of a loon but I am trying to paint a picture here).

Despite my persistence it all ended in failure with not even one tiny bit of edible popcorn. Sadness. Defeat. Ugh. I woke up the next morning with renewed resolve and began to study every caramel corn recipe that I could find. I talked about caramel corn with E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. It turns out their are two camps concerning this sweet snack. There are those that prefer a crunchier corn and others that like it soft. I imagined this to be some sort of personality indicator, a caramel corn mood ring if you will. I did not know where I belonged on the caramel corn spectrum, I just knew that I wanted to have a ready opinion on the matter.

Finally I did what I always do. I randomly picked a recipe and jumped in. This time my sister was my DB Sweeney/child wrangler and this time we ended up with a huge bowlful of yumminess. I learned a lot about on this little journey. First, that buying butter in bulk is necessary, and secondly that I do have the ability to conjur some pretty dogged determination when I set my mind to it, that changing the batteries in the smoke detectors twice a year may not be enough when you spend a couple of evenings trying to burn down your kitchen.  And lastly I found that in the crunchie verses soft debate I like to have my cake and eat it too and find myself somewhere in the middle.

This is the recipe I finally found and now love.  If you spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set it in the oven at 300 for a couple of minutes (5 is my magic number) and then let it cool for about 15 minutes (although I find that no one is able to keep their paws off of this stuff once it is out of the oven) you will get a slightly crispy and gooey in all the right places treat.

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