I experimented with other traditional Christmas morning breakfasts, but hubby preferred his yogurt and cereal and Cynthia only cared about opening presents. Sigh. When Cynthia was little, we created and decorated houses from graham crackers, icing and candy, but never graduated to a more sophisticated gingerbread house. I experiment with new cookies every year, but haven't developed a traditional favorite.
Where did I go wrong? Just when I was about to throw in the food flag, Cynthia came to me and asked, "Mom, when are you going to make the caramel popcorn?"
Yes! We do have a tradition - the caramel popcorn that she and her friends devour by the bowlful. The caramel corn that I mix with nuts and give as gifts. Feeling like less of a failure, I found I had the three main ingredients - butter, sugar and light corn syrup - on hand and ran out to purchase the mixed nuts.
The Best (and Easiest) Ever Caramel Corn
2 quarts popped corn (I use microwave popcorn)
1 to 2 cups nuts (salted, roasted mixed nuts, any kind you like)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup light corn syrup
- Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in large pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Continue boiling until light brown color (like the color of peanut butter), about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Mix in popcorn and nuts. (It's easiest to do this in the same container that you use to prepare the caramel.)
This is the perfect "peanut butter" color. Be careful. At this point, the candy goes from "just right" to "overcooked" in seconds. I ruined the first batch.
- Spread on cookie sheet. Let cool slightly and break into pieces. Store in air-tight container.
The popcorn on the left is the proper color. The batch on the right, slightly overcooked, looks good, but tastes bitter and burnt. It ended up in the trash can.
It seems that I always overcook the first batch. It's part of my holiday tradition.