Sunday, June 21, 2009

Microwave Caramel Corn

This is for Valerie…

Remember Cracker Jacks? There was no mistaking the box with its bright red and white label, little blue sailor and dog. As a kid, I wasn’t overly fond of caramel corn but I loved the peanuts. Of course, the hidden toy was the biggest draw and I would always dump a little out, and then dig through the rest, until I found it. Invariably it was at the bottom. It didn’t work to open the box from the bottom either—the toy would be on the top! You never knew what you would find—tattoo or stickers, maze and ball puzzles, rings, toy cars or animals. Compared and sometimes traded, it was magical to get the coolest one.

These days the toys that come in Cracker Jacks aren’t nearly so fun. I asked my husband this morning if he had liked Cracker Jacks as a kid. His reply; “you bet. But now the prize is just some stupid riddle on a piece of paper.” Clearly, I was not alone in my love of those little prizes.

This recipe for caramel corn came from Nana. It’s been in our family practically since the invention of the microwave. Now you too can make Cracker Jacks at home…the prize at the bottom as creative and cool as your imagination will allow.

Microwave Carmel Corn

6 quarts Plain Popcorn—no salt or butter

1 cube Butter

1 Cup Brown Sugar

½ teaspoon Cream of Tarter

¼ Cup Karo Corn Syrup

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1-2 Cups nuts—your choice (Almonds or Peanuts work well) optional

Pop corn and place in a brown paper grocery bag. (We use an air popper to pop our corn, and 6 quarts is about two poppers.) Add nuts to popcorn. In a 3½-quart saucepan, melt butter. Add corn syrup, brown sugar, and cream of tartar. Bring to a rolling boil. Add soda and stir like crazy for 10 seconds. (The caramel will foam up so be ready to pour over popcorn in a hurry if it looks like it might overflow your pot.) Immediately pour onto the popcorn and mix well.

Fold top of bag down tightly and place in the microwave for 6 minutes, stirring after each minute. Dump the cooked caramel corn out on to parchment paper and spread to cool. Enjoy!

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