Black Friday Caramel Popcorn
The origin of the term “Black Friday” is up for debate. Some say it hails from 1961 shoppers in Philadelphia who were so thick on the sidewalk the police (in black) were called out to patrol. Some say it is a retail term because stores frequently operate in a deficit until the weekend after Thanksgiving and then they begin to turn a profit (thus their books turn from red to black). Some like it, some don’t like it. Whatever, it’s a dog whistle to shoppers…except we can all hear it. Is there anyone who has not been inundated with ads promising stores open early, cheap televisions, the best toys, sweaters that your mom would love and, of course, a few bobbles for all of your efforts?
I do my very best to ignore the madness. I roll my eyes at the television commercials and ignore the pleading emails and catalogs. I am proud to say I have never been to any store at midnight (okay, that’s not absolutely true, my roommate in college, Maria, and I would inexplicably go to our newly-opened 24-hour Walmart after leaving bars. Because that’s when you make the best decisions, right?).
So I am immune to Black Friday madness. Yup. I save aaaaaallll my shopping for Saturday. This week, for example, since I am busting out of the last pair of exercise pants that I’ve been squeezing myself into…Lululemon? See you Saturday. Nick’s 40th birthday present? Day after Black Friday sounds like a good and rational day to buy him something that I’d like him to look back on for years and remember with fondness. With exhausted retailers, dirty shopping centers and depleted stock I’ve definitely outsmarted everyone.
To celebrate this season of giving (to retailers) and taking (from savings) I’m also going to give you the world’s absolute easiest caramel popcorn recipe to make and give away to the people you love. What? You didn’t KNOW you needed a caramel popcorn recipe? Well, pull up a seat. You do. You do.
First up this is a little bit of a cheat because you don’t make a “real” caramel to pour over it. You make a mixture that looks a lot like caramel but the color actually comes from vanilla and brown sugar. So downside, it’s not authentic. Upside: It is about 1,000 times easier to deal with than real caramel.
Secondly you really do have to bake it. Don’t skip this step.
The most fun is that you get to make Popcorn old school! No microwaves here! This is stove top, you-contol-the-salt, take-the-top-off-and-crack-your-kids-up popcorn making.
It also started a new rule in our family, “He who taketh the top off the popcorn to get a cheap laugh from the kids cleaneth up the flipping mess”
Oh, wait. There is another important note: It’s super duper addictive. So before you make it, go buy a bunch of inexpensive canning jars (jarring jars?) like Ball or Kerr and fill ’em up and give ’em to your neighbors. Seriously. You do NOT want this stuff hanging around! Deadly.
- 1 cup (200 g) of popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vegetable oil
- 2 cups (400 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 sticks (227 g) of unsalted butter
- 1 cup (240 ml) of whipping creme
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon (17 g) of flaky salt
- Preheat oven to 300 F / 150C
- Heat 8 qt stockpot over medium high flame. Add oil then add popcorn kernels and cover pot with lid, leaving it slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.
- Popcorn will begin to pop in about 3 minutes. Shake the pan to move the kernels around. Stop shaking and turn the heat off when kernels are no longer popping furiously but taking about 10 seconds between pops.
- Remove from heat and split popped popcorn evenly between two large bowls. Discard unpopped kernels.
- In a medium saucepan combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Cook until the butter melts. Add the whipping creme. Stir well and bring back just until it starts to boil again. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the caramel sauce over the popped popcorn. Mix with a rubber or wooden spatula until all popped corn is coated.
- Spread the popcorn in an even layer on the cooking sheet. Bake at 300 for about 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven (close the oven door) and toss it around with a rubber or wooden spatula. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
- Remove it from the oven and sprinkle the salt on top. Let it cool for 10 minutes then break it up and place it into jars to give away.
- This makes about 30 cups or about 7 1/2 quarts of caramel popcorn. Plenty to give away! The recipe also halves easily.