caramel apple corn

So, over the weekend I graduated from the Culinary and Baking Arts programs that I took over the summer. I got a medal! It's engraved with a chef's toque and a pan and maybe a whisk? I forget. I guess I can just look at it since it's around my neck right now. Just kidding! It's at the polisher's. I drool on it a lot in my sleep.

Mmmm. "Now I am so hungry I cannot wait for the recipe." That's what you are thinking right now. Well, we'll get there. Anyways, so on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights during the summer I went to class after work and learned how to make food. It was great. You would know this if you had read my blog posts about it. I blogged about it after every single class? Yeah, you probably don't know because you didn't read it. My blog hits (that's when someone visits your blog. "Oh, they hit me." That means, "Oh, they visited my blog." Probably.) went way down during those six weeks. Whatever. Fine. I don't care about YOUR life either.

I'm just kidding, I might care about your life. Especially if you work in the circus. Have you seen the PBS series Circus? If not, it's the most amazing thing in the universe. It will make you want to join the circus immediately, even with the bomb threats, injuries and extreme loneliness. Juggling! I've been thinking about that show because the guy who plays Grandma the Clown, who is like an institution, is retiring. Awww. Sad clown. Even though I kind of thought he wasn't as welcoming as he could have been to Glen the new clown and he was kind of clique-ish with Mark the nerd clown, but still. Bye, Grandma!

Where was I? Oh, so on Saturday we had our graduation ceremony, which was really more like five people showing up to the demonstration room and drinking lots of wine. That's what all graduation ceremonies should be like. Because right now they are very very boring.

I had to bring something to the dinner and I had signed up to bring something sweet. So I brought myself. Joke! I used that joke in the email I sent to the class saying I would bring something sweet, but it's so hilarious I will use it again. Just put it in the museum of humor. It's an instant classic.

So I made this caramel apple corn. Because it's fall and I'm determined to cram as much fall food into this season as possible. Basically you make caramel corn but you mix some dried apples into it. See how much I learned! I used the freeze-dried apples from Target, but you can use whatever you like. Even apple chips! The only thing is I would use apples that are fairly, if not completely, dried out, not the ones that are still pretty gummy. The texture will be strange. Probably - I didn't make it like that, so maybe you want to and it will be delicious.

Enjoy!

caramel apple corn

adapted from baked explorations

ingredients
+ 1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, popped according to the package (it should make about 24-25 cups of popped popcorn)
+ 5 cups chopped, dehydrated or freeze-dried apples or apple chips
+ 2 sticks unsalted butter
+ 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
+ 1/2 cup light corn syrup
+ 2 tablespoons molasses
+ 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
+ 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
+ 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

recipe
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. 

Mix together the popcorn and 5 cups of dried apples in a large roasting pan. Set aside.

In a medium-to-large saucepan, melt the two sticks of unsalted butter. Add the two cups of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of molasses. Stirring as little as possible, cook the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees F. Immediately take the pan off the heat and add the teaspoon of kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble and froth.

Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and apple mixture and stir thoroughly with a heat-proof spatula. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to mix the popcorn again, coating all of the pieces thoroughly. Place the pan in the oven again for another 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare two baking sheets with nonstick mats or parchment paper. Set them aside.

After 25 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to remove the popcorn from the pans and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Let them cool thoroughly.

When the caramel apple corn has cooled, break into chunks and serve.